Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions on Sunday endorsed Donald Trump, effectively anointing the GOP front-runner as the leader of the populist conservative movement and blunting the desperate attacks of Trump’s trailing rivals, Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
Sessions appeared with Trump at a rally attended by thousands at a stadium in Madison, Alabama.
“I told Donald Trump this isn’t a campaign, this is a movement,” Sessions said. “The American people are not happy with their government … Has the government fixed immigration? Donald Trump will do it,” Sessions said.
Sessions is the Senate point man for conservatives on many issues, particularly trade, immigration and social issues, the areas of greatest concern to many in the Republican base. There is nobody, in short, more trusted as a conservative in the U.S. Congress than Jeff Sessions.
Trump has made limiting immigration and opposing trade deals the centerpieces of his campaign. With Sessions now literally standing with him, it refutes arguments made by Cruz and Rubio that Trump is not a real conservative — particularly Rubio’s current line that Trump is a “con man.” If Trump is a con man, then conservatives must also believe that Sessions, one of their most respected leaders, has been conned.
Sessions, what’s more, has decided to back Trump over Cruz, a fellow senator. Sessions has been one of the few in the Senate, even among Republicans, to praise Cruz, and Cruz has been dropping Sessions’ name all over the place in recent days. That Sessions has come out for Trump is surely a bitter disappointment to the Texan.
And the support of Sessions, who is a veteran and senior member of the Judiciary Committee, helps assuage concerns conservatives may have that Trump would appoint a liberal justice to the Supreme Court.
Sessions’ endorsement comes on the heels of the backing given Friday by Gov. Chris Christie, a major and respected Establishment figure. With Sessions on board, Trump now has critical support from both sides of the Republican Party, adding to his legitimacy as a party leader.
And by rolling out these endorsements in the days leading up to Super Tuesday, Trump ensures that he continues to grab headlines as his opponents vie with him for the media’s attention.
Trump was effusive in praising Sessions, calling him “a great man” and “a man I respect that is an expert on the borders and so many things.”