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AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio endorses Donald Trump for president

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio addresses the media in Fountain Hills, Ariz., February 9, 2013.

REUTERS/Darryl Webb

Last Updated Jan 26, 2016 4:40 PM EST

Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Tuesday endorsed Donald Trump for president, according to a release provided by his campaign.

"Donald Trump is a leader. He produces results and is ready to get tough in order to protect American jobs and families. I have fought on the front lines to prevent illegal immigration. I know Donald Trump will stand with me and countless Americans to secure our border. I am proud to support him as the best candidate for President of the United States of America," Arpaio said in a statement provided by Trump's campaign.

Arpaio was traveling to Iowa on Tuesday for Trump's evening rally in Marshalltown, department spokeswoman Lisa Allen confirmed to CBS News, although she did not confirm that the sheriff's trip was linked to an endorsement.

In a statement, Trump praised Arpaio for his hard-line stance on illegal immigration.

"I have great respect for Sheriff Arpaio. We must restore law and order on the border and respect the men and women of our police forces. I thank him for his support of my policies and candidacy for President," Trump said.

Arpaio has served as Maricopa County sheriff since 1993, he once flirted with his own gubernatorial run, and has called himself "America's toughest sheriff." In 2014, dozens of inmates in his Arizona jail were put on a diet of bread and water for desecrating U.S. flags that hung in each cell.

In 2012, Arpaio tried to revive the "birther" debate by claiming that President Obama's birth certificate is forged. In 2014, Arpaio filed a lawsuit challenging Mr. Obama's immigration actions.

With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses next Monday, evangelical leader Jerry Falwell, Jr. also endorsed Trump on Tuesday. Last week, Trump won the endorsement of former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

CBS News' Alexander Romano contributed to this story.

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.