Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, stepping down after six years in office where she was a perpetual thorn in the side of the Obama administration, is leaving with a parting shot — calling President Obama a “failed president.”
“He’s been a very big disappointment to me,” Brewer told Fox News in an interview. “I think he has done things that certainly we would never have expected any president to do — by executive order and because he says so.”
Brewer has spent the last few years locked in legal battles with the Obama administration and others, largely over provisions in her state’s strict immigration bill, SB1070.
Multiple times, the federal courts have rejected provisions in the bill as unconstitutional. Even this week, just days before leaving office, a federal court rejected Brewer’s effort to deny driver’s licenses to young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers.”
Brewer said her biggest disappointment during her tenure was not getting the Arizona-Mexico border secured — though she tried with SB1070, which would have made it a crime for immigrants to be in Arizona without the proper papers, before that too was struck down.
Brewer, in the interview, rejected the criticism of those who have called her a racist for supporting the bill.
“Those of us born and raised in the southwest are not racists,” she insisted. “Those people are our neighbors. We go to church with us. Their children go to school. They marry into our families. This has nothing to do with racism. The bottom line is the rule of law and what it is doing to our country.”
As Brewer and her allies struggle to preserve the state’s strict immigration measures, Obama is charging ahead with his own immigration policies, via executive action, to suspend deportations and give work permits to potentially millions of illegal immigrants.
Brewer is not letting up on her criticism of the president.
The governor made headlines in January 2012, when cameras caught her wagging a finger in the president’s face on an airport tarmac.
Does she regret it?
“No, not really,” she said. “He was not very nice to me that day.”
According to Brewer, the president had objected to her portrayal of him as dismissive and patronizing in her book, “Scorpions for Breakfast.”
“He is very thin-skinned. He was very concerned about how I portrayed him in my book,” she said. “It was a truth-telling book and we need our borders secure, and he walked away from me.”
At the time, Obama downplayed the exchange, saying: “I think it’s always good publicity for a Republican if they’re in an argument with me. … I think this is a classic example of things getting blown out of proportion.”
Brewer isn’t a typical governor. She did not attend college and worked as an apartment building superintendent, pumping toilets and drains to put her husband through school. In 1982, she was elected as a state representative. Later, she moved to the state Senate and then Arizona secretary of state before taking the governorship when Janet Napolitano left to become Obama’s secretary of homeland security.
As for her future, Brewer is a proven fundraiser and a good draw on the speakers’ circuit. It’s likely some 2016 presidential candidates will seek her support, allowing her to continue her push for states’ rights and laws limiting illegal immigration.
William La Jeunesse joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in March 1998 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.