February 20th, 2012

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu on gay marriage: “You can’t legislate love.”

Days after stepping down from a position with Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu sat down with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to talk about recent allegations that he threatened to deport a former boyfriend and his views on gay marriage. Highlights from the interview is after the jump; please visit http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/2012.02.20.html for a full transcript of the interview.

Please credit all usage of the interview to CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer

EMBEDDABLE VIDEO: Exclusive interview with Sheriff Babeu

EMBEDDABLE VIDEO: Ariz. Sheriff on leaving Romney post

Highlights from Interview

WOLF BLITZER, CNN:  So, first of all, what was the nature of your relationship with this individual?

SHERIFF PAUL BABEU, PINAL COUNTY, ARIZONA:    We had seen each other privately and for some time, close to three years, simply in dating.  And he had volunteered separately on my campaign, in an unpaid status, actually was in control of our Web site, which is a volunteer Web site for sheriff from my political campaign and also started a Twitter account and did the social media.

And how this all started, Wolf — and I showed you some documents ahead of time — is back in April and May of last year, that we turned it over, as we were growing our campaign, to a paid professional.  And he turned that — all that over.  And then six, eight months later, he then — because he still had the passwords — took control of that information, started to Tweet.  People talk about somebody who Tweeted and they lied about it later.  This is the truth, that he Tweeted.

He also took property not only of all my photographs of our financial donation site, Pirex (ph), all of that, and started to post very negative things about me posing it was me.

The only communication that my attorney had — because everybody is saying, oh, this deportation.  One, he’s legal.  He has said that.  I have said that.  And — and then, in addition, this whole thing about deportation, we all know I don’t have deportation authority.  I have the authority to arrest.  There were several crimes committed here against me and my campaign…

BLITZER:  Alleged crimes.

BABEU:  Absolutely.  Well…

BLITZER:  He wasn’t convicted of anything?

BABEU:  No.  It — the fact that he has a business and he stole my property and the images purported to be, so, also, identity theft, in addition to that.  All I wanted done is for this to stop.  Give me back my property.  My lawyer sent one letter to him and he replied the very next day, on September 7th of last year, and turned over all the passwords…

BLITZER:  So what happened?

Was this a — a love affair that went wrong or something, that he got angry at you?

Is that…

BABEU:  You know…

BLITZER:  — is that what you’re saying?

BABEU:  This — this is the most embarrassing I’ve — I’ve never defined myself by other than my service and my duty and what we should all be judged on in life.  And we’ve all had relationships, as — as is clear as day now.  Now, this is national news, that I have had one, where he wanted to harm me.

And — and now this has rolled out.  And the timing of this is — is more than coincidence, that nationally, that all of this stuff — for years, all the media here in Arizona, all five TV stations, enemies of mine.  People have gone to my chain of command in the military to report that I’m — I’m gay, stuff that is my personal, private business.

And I’m not ashamed of who I am, because I’ve served my country.  I’ve answered thousands of emergency calls as a police officer, life saving medals.  I — I served as an army officer in Iraq, commanded 700 soldiers in Yuma.

BLITZER:  Explain why you decided to step down as co-chairman of the Romney campaign here in Arizona.

If — if you’ve done nothing wrong, why are you — why did you step down?

BABEU:  I haven’t.  One, I didn’t want this to splash over on Mitt or any other candidates.  I like…

BLITZER:  But what — what part, the allegations or the fact that you’re — you’re gay?

BABEU:  This controversy.  Certainly not that I’m gay.  The Romney campaign — and I don’t think anybody should have a problem with — with my personal life and who I am.  It doesn’t take away from my patriotism or my service.  And — and if you asked any of the candidates that, I don’t think that they would disagree with that.

And — and here, I’ve called them and said, look, at this time, I’ve got a lot to deal with, I’d like to step away from the campaign.  They said, you know, sheriff, that we understand, if that’s your choice.  We appreciate your value and your service.  Please don’t take this as anything, you know, from our end.

And I said, look, I’ve got enough to deal with.  And I do.

And to answer this, as this has been trying to get rolled out by numerous political opponents.  And now it has, under this slanderous, baseless attack.  And then all of a sudden everybody reports it as if it was true, from this tabloid.  And nobody has verified any of the facts.

I showed you evidence.  This is the business I’m in.

If somebody — if your next door neighbor called the police on you and said go and arrest Wolf, do you think I’m just going to come and arrest you?

No.  I have to find out all the fact.  I’ve got to ask questions.

You know, this is outrageous that this has been brought out because I’m a conservative Republican.  And — and now they think that somewhere there’s hypocrisy because I’m gay.  I’ve never worn it on my sleeve, like this is who I am.  I don’t define myself.  I don’t think we, in America, we’re different in America.  And we celebrate our differences.  And we see it as a strength, the beauty of our country.

Our religion, our freedom of speech, our political views and even our diversity in orientation.  And that’s the same liberties, the same freedoms, Wolf, that I put my own personal safety and life on the line to defend for our country have here at home as — as a police officer and as a sheriff.

BLITZER:  You’ve seen some of these comparisons people are making between you and Congressman Weiner…

BABEU:  Yes.

BLITZER:  — you know, who was Tweeting pictures of himself.

BABEU:  Right.

BLITZER:  There are pictures of you out there…

BABEU:  Right.

BLITZER:  — as well. What do you say about that?

BABEU:  One, I’ve never denied it.  These were personal pictures that I sent to an individual and for personal consumption…

BLITZER:  To this individual…

BABEU:  Absolutely.

BLITZER:  Dubbed Jose.

BABEU:  And — and in a — in addition, that I’m a single man.  I’ve never been married.  I don’t have a fake girlfriend.  It’s like I was honest.  I came — I came out publicly and told the truth completely.

And I want to be judged on my record of service, my love of my country and the fact that my whole life is service.  I’m the same sheriff, the same Paul Babeu today, as I was last week.

BLITZER:  — marriage, for example.  Should gay men and women have the right to get married?

BABEU:  And this is where I go Ron Paul on people in terms of the libertarian.  I believe in less government at the federal level.  They should get out of people’s lives.

Unless it’s an enumerated power in the Constitution, it falls to the states.  This is where it falls to the states.  And we have — we had Washington.  We have had a number of other states, Massachusetts, and now we have —

BLITZER:  Maryland.

BABEU:  — Maryland.  And they have all made decisions.

Arizona has made a decision.  That’s the law of the land.  I enforce the law.

I can tell you my personal beliefs and my political beliefs is, I believe in freedom of religion.  And there are faiths and religions that our government shouldn’t get involved in that absolutely do not condone gay marriage.

The government shouldn’t tell those faiths and those religions that they have to.  At the same time, I don’t believe they should tell other faiths that they can’t.  And this is where our government needs to get the heck out of the way.  And if it’s not harming someone else, then what does it matter?  And you can’t legislate love.

A full transcript of the interview will be posted at http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/2012.02.20.html