In a stunning move Sunday evening, conservative and tea-party icon Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama endorsed Donald Trump. This represents the most significant GOP endorsement yet for the billionaire presidential hopeful.
Speaking from the stage in a packed football stadium at a Huntsville, Alabama, rally, Sessions’ endorsement is a significant blow against Trump’s most serious opponents, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
“We are in a movement that must not fade away,” Sessions said. “The bosses are you. The people in Washington are public servants and they serve you.”
Sessions promised a “Gang of Eight” type of immigration reform bill would not will be passed in a Donald Trump presidency.
“There is an opportunity this year, Tuesday, and we have the opportunity, we have an opportunity Tuesday. It may be the last opportunity we have for the people’s voice to be heard. You have asked for 30 years, and politicians have promised for 30 years to fix illegal immigration,” Sessions said.
“The American people have known for years these trade agreements have not been working for them,” Sessions stumped. “We now have and will soon have a vote on the Transpacific Partnership TPP), Obamatrade, and it will damage America. It will create a commission that undermines our sovereignty, and it should not pass. Donald Trump when he gets elected president will see it does not pass.”
The populist revolt around the country has catapulted Trump into the limelight ever since he announced his candidacy. Sessions’ support means the powerful Alabama senator will be putting his entire operation behind Trump.
Sessions is seen as the intellectual leader of the future of the conservative movement and the brainpower behind the revolt against political elites that’s been emerging since at least 2013.
The senator is the latest in a string of high-profile endorsements for Trump’s rebel campaign, on the heels of support from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Maine Gov. Paul LePage, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, as well as Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Rep. Chris Collins R-N.Y.
But Breitbart.com notes, “But all those endorsements pale in comparison to Sessions’ backing of Trump, as the Alabamian senator is universally respected – and feared – inside the beltway in Washington. Sessions is known for his tough views on immigration and trade and has repeatedly aimed to push the Republican Party in a more populist, nationalist direction. Sessions has helped frame the movement’s views on both issues – and more, like courts and judicial nominations, law and order and police matters, and on budgetary issues and the fiscal well-being of America – while maintaining a formidable political and policy operation that his allies view as invaluable and his enemies dread.”
Trump alluded to the upcoming announcement on Twitter, stating: “I will be making a big surprise announcement to the massive crowd assembled in Huntsville/Madison Alabama! Landing now!”
Sessions is the first Senate Republican to endorse Trump for president. He is respected on immigration among conservatives opposed to loosening immigration laws, and shares Trump’s protectionist view on trade. Sessions appeared at Alabama rally with Trump in August, but stopped short of an endorsement.
Trump said in a statement, “I am deeply honored to have the endorsement of Senator Jeff Sessions, leader of congressional conservatives. He has been called the Senate’s indispensable man and the gold standard. He led the fight against the Gang of Eight, against Obama’s trade deal, against Obama’s judges, and for American sovereignty. He has stood up to special interests as few have. There is no more respected man in Congress and we are closely aligned on many issues, including trade and illegal immigration, and I am proud to consider Jeff Sessions an advisor, friend and ally.”
Sessions acknowledged Trump is not perfect, but nobody is.
“This movement, he doesn’t take money from political groups and lobbyists. He is committed to leading this country in an effective way. You know, nobody is perfect. We can’t have everything, can we, Mr. Trump? But I can tell you one thing, I think at this time in my opinion, my best judgment, at this time in America’s history, we need to make America great again!” Sessions said, repeating Trump’s campaign slogan.
“I am pleased to endorse Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States,” Sessions exclaimed.
“I told Donald Trump this isn’t a campaign, this is a movement,” Sessions told the crowd. “Look at what’s happening. The American people are not happy with their government.”
An endorsement by Sessions has been highly sought-after by Republican presidential candidates because of his party-wide respect. Cruz has cited him frequently on the campaign trail. Sessions has helped many of the GOP candidates craft their policy positions and has been a driving force in framing the populist nationalist future of the Republican Party.
Sessions’ old communications director Stephen Miller joined Trump’s campaign earlier in the cycle as a senior policy adviser.
Immediately after the Sessions endorsement a Black Lives Matter protester erupted in the audience.
The endorsement comes two days before the crucial Super Tuesday primary when Alabama and a dozen other states vote, mostly in the South. If Trump wins big on Super Tuesday, it sets him up for a significant battle to take down Rubio in Rubio’s home state of Florida, seen as an embarrassment for the young first-time senator and likely to end his presidential campaign.
According to the IJ Review, Trump has dealt with an increasingly aggressive Marco Rubio in recent days, noting, “The Florida Republican has adopted some of Trump’s trollish bluster, mocking him nonstop for his debate performance, ‘Trump University,’ his hiring of illegal immigrants and his spray tan.”
Even as far back as August 2015, supporters have floated the idea of a VP position for the Alabama senator should Trump become the GOP nominee.
The powerful endorsement from Sessions has renewed speculation.