Sessions Responds to Trump’s Endorsement of GOP Runoff Opponent

March 11, 2020 Updated: March 11, 2020

Jeff Sessions has responded to President Donald Trump’s endorsement of his former attorney general’s Republican opponent in a runoff for the party’s U.S. Senate nomination in Alabama, saying he intends to bring his case “directly to the people.”

Sessions and Tommy Tuberville, a former college football coach, advanced to a Republican primary runoff after Tuberville received 33.4 percent of the vote to Sessions’s 31.6 percent on March 3, according to Ballotpedia. On March 11, Sessions responded on Twitter to the president’s endorsement of Tuberville, arguing that he supports the same values as Trump does.

“Of course, President Trump can endorse anyone he chooses for the U.S. Senate election in Alabama,” Sessions said. “But the Constitution expressly empowers the people of Alabama, and only them, to select their Senator. I intend to take my case directly to the people of Alabama.”

Sessions will face Tuberville in the runoff election on March 31 to become the GOP nominee to challenge incumbent Doug Jones, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. More than 50 percent of the vote is needed to win the primary outright.

Sessions said that even before Trump ran for the White House, he “fought for the principles that Donald Trump so effectively advocated in the campaign and has advanced as President.”

“I believed in those principles then, I have always fought for them, and I will continue to do so,” he added.

In a March 10 Twitter post endorsing Tuberville, Trump called him a “terrific head football coach at Auburn University” and a “REAL LEADER who will never let MAGA/KAG, or our Country, down.” 

“Tommy will protect your Second Amendment (which is under siege), is strong on Crime and the Border, and truly LOVES our Military and our Vets,” Trump added. “He will be a great Senator for the people of Alabama. Coach Tommy Tuberville, a winner, has my Complete and Total Endorsement. I love Alabama!”

In response to the endorsement, Tuberville said, “Looking forward to helping you drain the swamp and !”

According to his website, Tuberville is running for Senate because he believes that the first duty of government is to “protect our individual liberty.” He said as senator, he will fight for smaller government, less taxes, national sovereignty, and to defend the Constitution.

Sessions, 73, was the first Senate Republican to endorse Trump in 2016 before joining his administration. Sessions left the U.S. Senate seat he held for decades in 2017 to become Trump’s attorney general.

Sessions left the attorney general position in November 2018 at the request of the president, who repeatedly criticized his decision to recuse himself from the probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. In November 2019, Sessions announced the bid for his former seat.

Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.

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