Senate hopeful Joe Arpaio mum on details of Trump policies

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Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio arrives Tuesday at the Arizona Secretary of State’s office in Phoenix to turn in petition signatures in his bid to appear on the ballot in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake. (Source: AP Photo/Matt York) Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio arrives Tuesday at the Arizona Secretary of State’s office in Phoenix to turn in petition signatures in his bid to appear on the ballot in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake. (Source: AP Photo/Matt York)
Arpaio is facing tough questions about the details of his beliefs. (Source: AP Photo/Matt York) Arpaio is facing tough questions about the details of his beliefs. (Source: AP Photo/Matt York)
Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio arrives Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at the Arizona Secretary of State’s office to turn in petition signatures to appear on the ballot in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake. (Source: AP Photo/Matt York) Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio arrives Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at the Arizona Secretary of State’s office to turn in petition signatures to appear on the ballot in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake. (Source: AP Photo/Matt York)
The Republican lawman’s campaign says it turned in 10,000 signatures on Tuesday so he can compete in the GOP primary on Aug. 28. (Source: AP Photo/Matt York) The Republican lawman’s campaign says it turned in 10,000 signatures on Tuesday so he can compete in the GOP primary on Aug. 28. (Source: AP Photo/Matt York)
The 85-year-old lawman spoke to reporters Tuesday before handing in petition signatures needed to compete in the Aug. 28 Republican primary in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake. (Source: AP Photo/Matt York) The 85-year-old lawman spoke to reporters Tuesday before handing in petition signatures needed to compete in the Aug. 28 Republican primary in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake. (Source: AP Photo/Matt York)
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PHOENIX (AP) -

U.S. Senate candidate Joe Arpaio has repeatedly pledged his unwavering support for President Donald Trump, but the divisive retired sheriff is unwilling or unable to elaborate on the president’s policies.

Arpaio declined at a news conference Tuesday to explain how Trump’s earlier plan to impose tariffs on Chinese imports would affect Arizona residents and whether the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal would make Americans less or more safe.

[VIDEO: 'I get my name in the paper ... when I go to the toilet,' Arpaio said before filing signatures for Senate run]

[RELATED: America's toughest senator? Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio announces run for Senate]

Instead, he focused on his loyalty to Trump, who nine months ago pardoned Arpaio’s criminal contempt-of-court conviction for intentionally disobeying a judge’s order in an immigration case.

[READ MORE: President Trump pardons former Sheriff Joe Arpaio]

“I am not a ‘yes man,’ but I do support the majority of his policies, his agenda, and I’m going to continue doing that,” Arpaio said. He was unable to name any Trump policies he opposed.

[RAW VIDEO: Q&A with Arpaio before he filed petitions]

The 85-year-old lawman, who lost his 2016 re-election campaign to a little-known Phoenix police sergeant as his legal problems mounted, spoke to reporters Tuesday before handing in petition signatures needed to compete in the Aug. 28 Republican primary in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Arpaio ready to file signatures for Senate run]

Arpaio faces U.S. Rep. Martha McSally and former state Sen. Kelli Ward in the GOP field.

In his 24 years as metro Phoenix’s sheriff, Arpaio wasn’t known for immersing himself in the policies and inner workings of his office and often prided himself on farming out those details to his underlings.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio]

Now, Arpaio is facing tough questions about the details of his beliefs. Those questions led to tense exchanges between Arpaio and reporters shortly before he turned in the signatures.

Asked to say how the tariffs threatened by Trump would affect Arizona residents, Arpaio said only that he wants products to be made in the United States and doesn’t believe the approach to tariffs would hurt the state.

[RELATED: Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio raises more than half a million for Senate campaign]

He also was asked whether he knew what a tariff was.

“I know what tariffs are, but I’m not here to do a history — to educate you on what a tariff is,” Arpaio said.

Similarly, he declined to say whether the Iran nuclear deal would make the United States safer.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Politics]

“I don’t have all the foreign information,” Arpaio said. “You expect me to know everything. I am not in the Senate yet.”

Arpaio, who was known for launching dozens of crackdowns on immigrants as sheriff, bristled when asked about taxpayers’ rising bill from his traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.

[RELATED: Defeated Arpaio has no regrets about immigration crackdowns (Nov. 13, 2016)]

Taxpayers in Arizona’s most populous county have shelled out nearly $88 million over the last five years to cover legal and compliance costs in a racial profiling lawsuit that focused on his immigration patrols. Arpaio lost the case, and a judge ordered a massive overhaul of the agency.

[RELATED: Tactics, events that defined Joe Arpaio's career as sheriff]

The cost to taxpayers is projected to reach $120 million by summer 2019.

Arpaio rejected suggestions that he is to blame for the unexpected costs that arose from his patrols. He blamed the costs on the U.S. judge who ruled that Arpaio’s officers had racially profiled Latinos in the patrols and found that the sheriff had ignored his order to stop the tactic.

[READ MORE: GUILTY: Judge rules in former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's criminal contempt case]

“It’s not my fault. I am not guilty,” Arpaio said.

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