MANCHESTER, N.H. – Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions criticized Marco Rubio’s stance on immigration while praising Donald Trump ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.
Sessions, the senator viewed as the intellectual godfather of the conservative movement as it clashes with the Republican establishment in this primary, praised Ted Cruz but warned against Rubio in an interview with New England-based radio host Howie Carr on Friday night.
“This is the deal. If the American people nominate a Republican candidate who favors amnesty and pathway to citizenship for illegals…then the matter is lost,” Sessions said gravely. “There is one opportunity to put this country on the course of a lawful system.”
“Ted Cruz I guess won in Iowa, and Ted stood by me as we fought against the Gang of 8 bill, which did pass the Senate and was on the verge of passing in the House when the leader in the House Eric Cantor got clobbered in his own district in the primary on this issue.”
“Marco Rubio was in the Gang of 8. They met in secret for several months,” Sessions said told Carr.
They met with La Raza, they met with the ACLU, they met with President Obama, they met with the Chamber of Commerce, and they wrote this bill and he became the chief proponent of this bill. And it would have increased the lawful flow of immigration from the colossal number of one million a year to one million point five, and it would have legalized eleven million people and put them on the path to citizenship.
“I think we should not nominate somebody who adheres to the views carried out by the Gang of 8 immigration bill,” Sessions said.
“Jeb Bush has supported that bill, and Santorum and Huckabee opposed it.”
“Anybody can learn. Marco can learn. But the people of New Hampshire and in every Republican primary need to ask all their candidates, Howie, they need to ask them where they stand on this.”
Sessions said that he does not think Rubio has had a change of heart on immigration since the Gang of 8 fight.
“His approach to immigration, and the approach of the people who funded this effort…the Zuckerbergs and the Marriotts, and the big guys with the money…their philosophy, and from what I’ve seen Marco’s philosophy on immigration, disagrees with mine” and also most of the American people, Sessions said.
“Well, I don’t see anything like that clarity that you just mentioned,” Sessions said. “It now seems he’s sort of re-affirmed his position.”
Sessions doubted Carr’s prognostication that Rubio could beat Trump in a primary.
“Trump of course has been crystal clear on where he stands. I have to imagine he would honor that if he were elected. Ted was on the right side of that debate. I think that people like Jeb, and Kasich, and Marco, if they want to win the Republican nomination, should be crystal clear on where they stand.”