TPM: ‘This Is the Jeff Sessions Election and the GOP Is Just Along for the Ride’

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Lauren Fox at Talking Points Memo says that for Republican presidential candidates, the most important way they can distinguish themselves from the pack is by embracing Jeff Sessions’ immigration policies.

From Talking Points Memo:

To be candid, there’s not usually a line of reporters waiting to talk to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

But last week, with only four days to go until the Iowa caucuses, the 69-year-old glassy-eyed former U.S. attorney nearly forgot to cast his vote on a routine matter he was so busy moving from one interview to the next outside of the Senate chamber.

The four-term senator is hardly a new face in the Republican Party, nor is the soft-spoken and twangy Sessions considered the party’s rising star. But suddenly, almost out of nowhere, and for reasons even he doesn’t fully grasp, Sessions has become a talisman for GOP presidential candidates. Association with him and his hardline on immigration, with its nativist echoes, confers instant credibility in a presidential campaign defined by Donald Trump’s appeals to an anxious electorate’s baser instincts.

If Sessions was a mostly lonely figure on the far-right fringe of previous immigration debates, he is now at the fractious center of the most virulent debate on immigration the country has seen in decades, with Hispanic immigrants, Syrian refugees, and even foreign doctors, engineers, and Ph.Ds among those coming under withering scorn. Sessions hasn’t budged; rather the GOP has come to him.

Sessions has spent most of his tenure in the Senate trying to limit even some legal forms of immigration to the United States, railing against many moderate Republican or business-backed efforts to soften the GOP’s record with Latino voters as the party desperately grappled to expand its base.

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