Arpaio on Senate bid: I’m running ‘for the good of our country’

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says in a new interview that he is running for Arizona's Senate seat "for the good of the country," explaining to CNN that he is going through much of the same thing that President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer employees critique EPA under Trump in new report Fired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Virginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests MORE has gone through with the media.

In an interview broadcast Wednesday, Arpaio told CNN he believes he can win the GOP primary and eventual general election for Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeKelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll Trump asserts his power over Republicans 'Never Trump' Republicans: Fringe, or force to be reckoned with? MORE's (R-Ariz.) Senate seat. Flake announced last year he would not seek reelection in 2018.

"I've got to give it a shot for the good of our country," Arpaio said. "And I'm going to do it. And I'm going to win."

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Arpaio, who was pardoned by Trump last year after a court found him guilty of contempt for refusing to cease traffic stops targeting Hispanics for the sole purpose of immigration checks, says he knows what the president is going through in his fight against the mainstream media.

"I understand what he's going through," Arpaio told CNN. "I'm going through the same thing. Believe it or not, people [are] going after this guy here. So, I understand it."

Arpaio, 85, was a major Trump supporter during the 2016 campaign and appeared alongside candidate Trump at several events, but the sheriff lost his bid for reelection by double digits on the same night Trump won the presidency.

Since then, Arpaio has been at the center of speculation over his future in Arizona politics.

Arpaio told CNN that if elected, he plans to "back [Trump] up" in the Senate, where Arpaio says the president doesn't have enough support.

Arpaio will face 48-year-old former state Sen. Kelli Ward (R) and a possible bid from 51-year-old Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyFox News polls: Trump trails Biden in Ohio, Arizona and Wisconsin Kelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll The Hill's Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation MORE (R-Ariz.) in the state's GOP primary. Responding to a question from a CNN reporter, Arpaio said he was unconcerned about blowback from senior GOP figures in his state.

"People who are longtime Arizona GOP people are concerned about your entrance into the race," said the reporter.

"OK, OK. Well, were they worried about President Trump?" Arpaio shot back. "They didn't give him any chance. I guess he won."