On Sunday, Senator Jefferson (“Jeff”) Sessions endorsed Donald Trump during a campaign event in his home state of Alabama. Sessions is the upper chamber’s most strident opponent of immigration reform, and the first senator to endorse the billionaire real estate developer.
“The events of history have aligned to give the people this fleeting chance to bust up the oligarchy,” Trump said, introducing Sessions, “to take back control from the ‘Masters of the Universe’ [and] return it to the good and decent and patriotic citizens of the United States.”
Taking the microphone, Sessions said that Trump would “fix illegal immigration,” and referred to the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement as “Obamatrade.” Trump’s immigration proposals were crafted with input from Sessions, the Washington Post reported in August.
Last week, Sessions told Fox Business News that he thinks Trump could defeat Hillary Clinton in a general election: “It looks like working people who may have been voting Democrat voted for Trump in huge numbers. They say, it’s correct, you cannot win an election with the simple Republican base. You have to have a nominee who can reach beyond that base. Trump is reaching out to working Americans in a way others so far have not been able to do. That’s the way you get over 50 percent.”
“I’ve been talking about that for seven years,” he said. “Our consultant ‘geniuses’ said you’ve got to be more moderate, you have to have more amnesty, and that’s the way to win elections. I think Trump is proving that’s not so.”
In a statement on Sunday, Trump said, “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 [immigration reform], against Obama’s trade deal, against Obama’s judges, and for American sovereignty. He has stood up to special interests as few have.”
Sessions has also been supportive of his colleague—and Trump rival—Ted Cruz, stumping for the Texas senator as recently as December and defending his opposition to 2013's “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill. “I believe that without the vigorous opposition of Ted Cruz, this bill likely would have passed,” Sessions said, according to the Texas Tribune. “Ted Cruz stood with me, Steve King and Mike Lee and others that opposed this bill. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.”
But on Sunday, Sessions pulled on a Trump-branded campaign hat. “At this time in American history, we need to make America great again,” he said. “I am pleased to endorse Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States.”