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Perry defends Joe Arpaio

Joe Arpaio, rick perry
Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry listens as he gets the endorsement of Maricopa County, Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Nov. 29, 2011, during a campaign stop at Joey's Diner in Amherst, N.H. AP Photo/Jim Cole

SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry is defending one of his more controversial surrogates, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, against a report by the Justice Department issued on Thursday that accuses him of committing civil-rights violations against Latinos in the Arizona county he oversees.

Justice's Civil Rights Division alleged that Arpaio's office has committed a wide range of violations, including following a pattern of racial profiling and discrimination, and carrying out heavy-handed immigration patrols based on racially charged citizen complaints.

"I would suggest to you that these people are out after Sheriff Joe," Perry said, though he acknowledged he didn't know the details of the charges. "He is tough. And again, when I'm the president of the United States, you're not going to see me going after states like Arizona or Alabama, suing sovereign states for making decisions."

Perry also told Neil Cavuto of Fox News that he has no plans to get out of the race, even if he should wind up with a fourth-place finish in Iowa. Most Hawkeye State polls show him well behind Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Rep. Ron Paul.

Although the goal is to get one of the proverbial three tickets out of the state, Perry said, "You'll still see me in New Hampshire and South Carolina and Florida."

He predicted that he will have a good showing in the state, bolstered by a bus tour he just began that will take him across over 40 Iowa cities. Perry said that Iowa voters "want to touch you, feel you, and sniff on you."

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