Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio for President in 2012?

The Arizona lawman is famous for his tough stance on illegal immigrants.

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BY Sean Alfano
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Is "America's Toughest Sheriff" planning a move to the White House?

Joe Arpaio, the Arizona lawman famous for his tough stance on illegal immigrants, will attend a GOP luncheon this Sunday in New Hampshire, fueling rumors he'll seek the party's 2012 presidential nomination.

The sheriff previously visited the key primary state during the last presidential election campaign to stump for Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney.

Arpaio's spokesman declined to say if the sheriff is planning a run for president.

He is "not going back to test the waters," Chad Willems, Arpaio's political adviser, told CNN.

However, Willems admitted: "People just don't go to New Hampshire if they are not interested in these things."

Arpaio gets thousands of calls urging him to run for president, Willems said.

Last week, Arpaio hinted that his endorsement carried more weight than one from Arizona Sen. John McCain, based on results from recent state elections.

"I don't think McCain's endorsements really mean that much," he told the Arizona Republic.

McCain though, defeated his primary opponent, J.D. Hayworth, who Arpaio backed. The two have feuded since 2000, when Arpaio supported George W. Bush for president over McCain. [See who donates the most money to McCain's campaign.]

Arpaio, who is in charge of law enforcement in Maricopa County, has gained national attention for his crackdowns on illegal immigration, which include erecting tent cities to house the hundreds of people swept up in raids.

Not surprisingly, he was a vocal supporter of Arizona's attempt to pass a law that allows cops to question a suspect's immigration status.

Other Republicans known for sparking controversy that are rumored to be considering a presidential run include former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.