Continued from page 2

The track record has helped him stay out of the cross hairs of the ultra-conservative wing of his party, which is looking to knock off some of his fellow Republicans this year in primary contests.

Asked about the primary challenges, Mr. Sessions said the tea party sometimes can overlook the complexities of legislating and misjudge the values of some of his colleagues.

But he said he is a “big defender” of the grass-roots movement and shares its frustration with Washington’s inability to confront the soaring national debt.

“Why shouldn’t they be upset?” Mr. Sessions said. “They are just tired of hearing excuses.”