Everyone expected Jeff Sessions to emphasize his support of Donald Trump’s agenda in his new bid to reclaim his Senate seat. The extent to which his first campaign ad revolves around Trump seems a little surprising, however. Sessions uses his first 30-second TV spot to sign his own hosannas, but only as a loyal #MAGA trooper, especially in contrast to everyone else who’s cashed in on their work with Trump.
“Did I write a tell-all book?” Sessions asks. “Did I go on CNN and attack the president? Nope,” Sessions says with a shake of his head. “I was there to serve his agenda, not mine”:
This is a crucial time in our nation's history. The left has become unhinged and they are threatening the very things that make America great. I'm running for U.S. Senate because we have to fight back. Let's go! https://t.co/E1Ti9aYKNT pic.twitter.com/IlueZhTiT4
— Jeff Sessions (@jeffsessions) November 8, 2019
It’s certainly true that Alabama is MAGA country, and Sessions needs to campaign with that in mind. The rest of the Republican contenders in the primary are tacking in the exact same direction. Whoever wins the right to challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Doug “Luckiest Man in the World” Jones, who was fortunate enough to run against Roy Moore, will have to be full-on MAGA, at least in the primaries but likely all the way to the finish line.
Given the beating that Sessions took from Trump over the past year and a half, though, this looks … weird. MSNBC’s Morning Joe panel called it a “hostage tape,” and it does have a whiff of Stockholm Syndrome to it:
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) November 8, 2019
No matter to Sessions, however. This ad wasn’t cut for MSNBC, Morning Joe, the punditry class, or even the voters of Alabama. This was a message to one person, and that one person acknowledged his reception of it:
Trump says he hasn’t gotten involved in Sessions’ race but saw he said “very nice things about me”
(Sessions’ announcement ad was clearly for an audience of one)
— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) November 8, 2019
Trump on whether he’ll campaign against Jeff Sessions, per pooler @Noahbierman: “I won’t. I’ll see how it all goes.” Trump adds: “We’ll see what happens; he’s got tough competition.”
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) November 8, 2019
That may not mean much, reported Kerry Picket and David Drucker yesterday:
President Trump will likely oppose a Senate comeback bid by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a White House source told the Washington Examiner.
Sessions, 72, faces a Friday filing deadline to enter the race for the Alabama Senate seat he held for 20 years until he joined the Trump administration heading the Justice Department. That role lasted less than two years before Trump ousted Sessions, who had recused himself from a probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump is still angry with Sessions, saying the move subjected him to a lengthy special counsel investigation into allegations that he colluded with Moscow to defeat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
An endorsement is “not happening because of the old feud,” the White House source said.
Sessions doesn’t need an endorsement, however. Sessions has decades of work in Alabama and high name recognition working for him already in the primary. Absent a Trump feud, he’d be a shoo-in for the nomination and general election. All he needs is for Trump to stay out of the primary. That’s why Sessions made this ad, and at least it got Trump’s attention … as flattery almost always does.