In an interview with Laura Ingraham on Monday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said it’s “fair to say” that he will not be endorsing Marco Rubio for president, LifeZette reports.
Sessions said that Rubio, like many other Republicans, ignores two of the most important issues to the Alabama senator — immigration and trade.
Rubio hasn’t said whether he supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial trade deal, which is ultimately what’s keeping Sessions from endorsing him.
Here’s a portion of the exchange between Sessions and Ingraham:
Sessions: I think anybody that gets elected. . . nominated as a Republican, should oppose that agreement.
Ingraham: Well Rubio is not opposing the agreement. . . So as it stands now, you could not endorse Marco Rubio because of his position on this, correct?
Sessions: Well, I think that’s fair to say. He said by May he would [give his position on the TPP], but look, we need to know now, before these primaries. The American people need to judge their candidates. I assume he’s for it. He said it’s one of the three pillars of his foreign policy. He voted for Fast Track in the Senate.
Rubio’s involvement with the Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of senators who penned an immigration reform bill in 2013 that included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants residing in the U.S., is another strike against him in Session’s eyes.
“I kept asking, [the Senators involved in the Gang of Eight Bill] ‘Why don’t you have law enforcement in these meetings?'” Sessions said. “‘Don’t you need their technical expertise to figure out how to end the lawlessness?”
“ICE officers, border patrol, USCIS, firmly and totally condemned the Gang of Eight bill,” he said.
Of all the Republican candidates left in the race, Sessions said that Trump is the candidate whose priorities align the closest to his own.
“I happened to catch Trump yesterday in his Atlanta speech,” he said. “I thought he was very clear, and very strong on trade. Nobody is close to that as of this date, I have to say.”
“[He] has validated my view that the American people will respond if these issues are properly discussed with them, and nobody really did until Trump, and he surged to the top,” Sessions said.“The American people are thinking, and they are concerned about both of these issues, and Trump has gained support on that.”