Report: Sheriff Arpaio to campaign with Perry

Maricopa County Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio who is famous for his tough anti-illegal immigration stance will endorse Rick Perry and campaign with the GOP hopeful in New Hampshire this week according to news reports.

Arpaio's backing for Perry, first reported by NBC News could help the Texas governor among conservative voters concerned with illegal immigration.

Arpaio who bills himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff" has built a reputation as a tough enforcer of Arizona's controversial laws against illegal immigration.

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The sheriff who has shown interest in running for president or an Arizona Senate seat in the past has been courted by GOP hopefuls. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and businessman Herman Cain have both visited him in hopes of gaining his endorsement.

Texas Gov. Perry though has come under criticism from other GOP contenders and conservative groups for his stance on immigration.

In Texas, Perry backed a law which allowed the children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition benefits at universities. He has also consistently opposed efforts to build a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border.

During an earlier GOP debate, Perry suggested that critics of that policy "did not have a heart." He back-tracked from those comments though after facing heated criticism from anti-illegal immigration activists.

“I was probably a bit over-passionate by using that word and it was inappropriate,” said Perry.

Perry, who has lost ground in polls after a series of debate gaffes, is running well behind GOP front-runners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in New Hampshire. A recent Suffolk University/7News poll found Romney leading the field in the nation’s first-in-the-primary state with 35 percent of those likely voters surveyed.  Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) were tied for second with 14 percent. Perry polled at 2 percent behind Jon Huntsman, Cain and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Another poll, by WMUR/University of New Hampshire found Perry attracting only 4 percent of likely voters