Sen. Jeff Sessions warned Republican leaders Sunday that if they turn against Donald Trump, they turn against American voters.
“Let me give advice to my Republican colleagues: They need to look at the election returns. They need to understand that the American people are not happy with the gridlock in America,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The Alabama Republican predicted that the GOP eventually would unify around the likely presidential nominee, despite persistent criticism of the billionaire businessman’s controversial remarks, including his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from U.S. to combat terrorism.
Mr. Sessions, who was the first U.S. senator to endorse Mr. Trump, said Republican lawmakers need to recognize that the voters are unhappy with them, not Mr. Trump.
“They’re not happy their wages have fallen since 2000 steadily. They’re not happy that we have a high unemployment. They’re not happy that we have an open border and lawlessness at our border,” he said. “Our leaders on both sides need to be considering what the American people are saying in this election and they need to be a part of the unity, too.”
The senator dismissed the hand-wringing over Mr. Trump’s recent dip in the polls, with likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton taking a double-digit lead in some surveys.
He recalled that then-Vice President George H.W. Bush was down by about 15 points in the polls before the Republican National Convention in 1988, and he went on to beat Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis in a landslide.
“I just think this is premature,” said Mr. Sessions. “The issues that will work for Donald Trump — trade, immigration, wages, jobs, gridlock in Washington. He is going break that [gridlock] up and move us in the right direction. And I believe the numbers are going to move his way steadily as these issues are joined in the fall.”