Despite Donald Trump‘s Republican naysayers, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) says the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is now the party’s leader.
“He is leading the Republican Party, which is the Republican voter,” Sessions said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday. “And the Republican voter is adopting his views and not the views that too often we’ve seen out of Washington, Democrat and Republican.”
But with Trump’s new status comes intensified scrutiny – and Sessions agrees there are things in the billionaire businessman’s past he should have to answer for, including questions on his treatment of women.
“Of course, he has to answer,” Sessions said. “But people have not expected purity on his part.”
“What they’re concerned about, they’re deeply concerned about is this: somebody strong enough to take on Washington,” he added.
Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump in February, but it was other Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, that Trump spent the last week attempting to court on a visit to Capitol Hill. According to Sessions, who was present for the meetings with Trump, Ryan, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, it went well.
“He did a great job,” Sessions said. “It was a good positive meeting.”
Still, Speaker Ryan has yet to endorse Trump. Chief among the concerns that Ryan and other GOP leaders have raised about Trump is his understanding of foreign policy, including his proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S., as well as his promises to “quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS.”
“I think he’s going to need to learn,” said Sessions, who chairs Trump’s national security advisory team. “It’s just a very, very complex world and you have to be careful when you commit a military force.”
Even if some Republican leaders aren’t responding to Trump’s charm offensive as he pivots to the general election, Sessions pointed to new Quinnipiac University polls in key battleground states as evidence that some voters are.
The polls show Trump running neck-and-neck with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, critical swing states that Sessions says could win either the White House this November.
“He’s appealing to the new group of voters, bringing in voters Republicans haven’t had in eight years, the ones necessary to winning an election,” Sessions said.