Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions praises Trump in announcing run for his old US Senate seat
Posted November 7, 2019 8:23 p.m. EST
CNN — Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a campaign for his old Alabama Senate seat on Thursday, betting that the leader of the Republican Party will not break the bond he built with the state's voters over two decades.
The announcement came a year after President Donald Trump fired Sessions from his dream job, and their relationship will now be a determining factor in the race.
While Sessions has been beloved in Alabama — his last Senate campaign in 2014 was unopposed — Trump commands higher approval ratings there than just about any other state. And the President spent months criticizing his first attorney general, personal attacks that could very well sway the party's primary on March 3.
Sessions referenced his departure from Trump's administration in a campaign announcement video published Thursday night.
"When I left President Trump's Cabinet, did I write a tell all book? No. Did I go on CNN and attack the President? No. Have I said a cross word about President Trump? No," Sessions says in the video. "And I'll tell you why: First, that would be dishonorable. I was there to serve his agenda, not mine. Second, the President is doing a great job for America and Alabama, and he has my strong support."
Sessions, a conservative budget hawk and immigration hardliner, was the first senator to endorse Trump in the 2016 presidential election. In 2017, Trump rewarded Sessions, who served as a former US attorney and state attorney general before being elected to the Senate in 1996, to lead the Justice Department.
Sessions referenced his endorsement of Trump in his Thursday night video.
"When President Trump took on Washington, only one senator out of a hundred had the courage to stand with him: me," he says. "I was the first to support President Trump. I was his strongest advocate. I still am."
But Sessions did not leave on good terms. After Sessions recused himself from the department's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump spent months ridiculing him both in public — and reportedly continues to do so in private.
Other Republican candidates are already pitching themselves as better stewards of Trump's political brand. Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, US Rep. Bradley Byrne, Secretary of State John Merrill, former Chief Justice Roy Moore, State Rep. Arnold Mooney and businessman Stanley Adair are all running for the party's nomination.