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Letter writers take Arizona governor to task after Obama encounter

Haraz N. Ghanbari / AP

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer points during an intense conversation with President Barack Obama after he arrived at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on Jan. 25, 2012, in Mesa, Ariz.

Arizona Gov. Janet Brewer’s office was flooded with mail condemning the Republican leader for wagging her finger at President Barack Obama during a tense airport encounter in January.

“I don’t have the exact breakdown, but most of the correspondence that came in was negative,” Matthew Benson, Brewer’s spokesman, told msnbc.com on Monday.

Benson said the governor’s office received more than 12,000 letters, many of them from out of state, following the exchange between the leaders on Jan. 25. Many were in the form of email, while others had been handwritten and one was written on a typewriter, Benson said.

The Arizona Republic reported on Sunday that it had obtained 100 letters randomly selected by the governor’s office after filing a public-records request.

Brewer and Obama were seen engaged in a tense conversation at the base of Air Force One’s steps in Mesa. Both could be seen smiling and speaking at the same time.

Arizona governor, Obama in ‘tense’ exchange over book

The exchange was generally understood to involve her criticism of the president in her published book, “Scorpions for Breakfast,” something of a memoir of her years growing up. The leaders have sparred most prominently on illegal immigration and Arizona’s tough law aiming to curb it.

Brewer has said she meant no disrespect to the president.

Veterans, housewives and middle-school students from New Orleans were among those who took the governor to task, according to the Arizona Republic.

"If you approached me like you did the president I would have taken great comfort by poking you in the nose," wrote Eleanor Tafolla from Cathedral City, Calif., the newspaper reported.

Chuck Bower of Indiana sent in his support of Brewer, writing in his letter: "The only thing you did wrong was wave the 'wrong' finger in his face."

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