He and all the previous speakers received polite applause, a couple of hoots and a standing ovation or three. But none electrified the crowd like Arpaio, who had people roaring with laughter and applauding thunderously like a seasoned headliner at the Improv. Of course, he put the assembled Minutemen over the top with comments such as “I spent 25 years in drug enforcement. I’m one of the people who knows what a border is. Most politicians wouldn’t know where to find it.”

It seems Arpaio’s problem with Hutchens is his perception that she blew him off. Among the many politicians he cited as having toured his incarceration tents is Orange County Supervisor Bill Campbell, who was accompanied by an OCSD middle manager.

“Your sheriff did not come; a captain did,” a still-astounded Arpaio told the audience. “I told the captain, ‘Why are you here? Where is the sheriff?’ He said, ‘I dunno.’”

Had Hutchens made the trip and befriended “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” perhaps she could have prevented Arpaio’s star power from invigorating the Hunt campaign.

Then again, she can now capitalize on the dinner to sew up Latino support. Unless Hunt gets to them first. During one of his brief mentions of the candidate who brought him to Orange County, Arpaio looked for a reaction from Hunt, who’d briefly stepped out. “Where’s Bill?” he asked. “Is he trying to get votes outside? I hope he speaks Spanish.”

Indeed, the spectacle in front of the Phoenix Club served as the perfect foil for Arpaio’s standup set.

“I apologize for the protesters outside,” he said joyfully early into his act. “They go wherever I go. If you know a good Mexican restaurant, go and tell them where it is. I know in Phoenix, I can’t go to a Mexican restaurant. When I walk in, most of the workers run out the back door or spit in my food.”

He claimed most of those protesting also traveled from Maricopa County, where they hold the same signs, chant the same chants and spew the same Hitler comparisons outside his office.

“I could pay them to do it every day,” Arpaio said of the support those daily protests have generated for his re-election campaigns. “I had Al Sharpton come out.”

The mere mention of Sharpton elicited loud boos in Anaheim before Arpaio cut everyone off, explaining, “I raised a lot of money from that. I should have paid for a first-class ticket for him.”

Guess we know who Hunt is going to line up for his next fund-raiser.

mcoker@ocweekly.com

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