Sessions: GOP nominee must speak to average working American

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 2, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


MITT ROMNEY, R-FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mitt is a failed candidate.  He failed. He failed horribly. The third -- he failed badly.


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, both those guys going at it today at separate time periods and separate events, but the gist of what you're hearing out of the Romney side of the camp and the establishment side, for lack of a better term, is that they're concerned for the future of the party and the direction the party is going in.

And to hear Mitt Romney tell it, nominating someone Donald Trump would lead to certain defeat, maybe blowout defeat in the fall election. It was not that long ago that Senator John McCain had worried about the Republicans even losing the Senate in that event.

Speaking of the Senate, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions with us right now.

Now, this particular Republican senator doesn't share that view. In fact, he is supporting Mr. Trump.

Senator, good to have you.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, R-ALA.: Thank you, Neil. And good to be with you.

CAVUTO: What do you see that these other colleagues of yours, who have been bashing Donald Trump, do not?

SESSIONS: Well, he is bringing in a great new group of people.

Let me tell you this, Neil. I have been saying this since the first idea came forward after Romney lost that we should be more moderate and grant amnesty to illegals to enter the country.

And this is what I believe. We lost the election with the under- $50,000-a-year voter. We got killed. Romney had this terrible image that he didn't care about people like me. From $30,000- to $50,000-a-year voters, Romney lost in 15.

George Bush in 2004 split that vote almost evenly. Under $30,000, Romney lost it 28 points. And it's time for a Republican nominee to talk to the average working American. Until we do, no matter how white your shirt is and how pretty your tie, you're not going to be able to generate the votes to win.

And Trump is bringing in -- this big rally in Hartselle, Madison, Alabama, was huge, and it was all kinds of people there. And they were seeing hope, a change agent, somebody who is going to break through this business as usual, and I think the voters are right that government has not understood their needs, and that that's why they're upset.

CAVUTO: Then, Senator, what do you think of your colleague Bill -- Sasse of the fine state of Nebraska, who says he just can't bring himself to support -- to support Mr. Trump and that he would sooner look for a real Republican, paraphrasing here, conservative, independently minded, if not independent outright, candidate?

SESSIONS: Well, look, we all know Donald Trump has been aggressive in what he said and how he makes his points.

But I think really if -- and he's a good person, a good senator, but I think if we give him a chance to lay out his program, we are going to see that more and more Americans are going to be drifting to that kind of vision for the country.

I think he could be able -- perhaps. Who knows. I will admit I don't know how these elections would come out. I would go to London and put my money on it. But -- and others could too if they're so certain.

But I think Trump has a chance to add to the party, bring in those lower-income voters that we have been losing, because he demonstrates that he is upset about what is going on. He says, it's hurting you, and I'm going to do the things necessary to fix it.

That's a good message. I think it can make a real difference in November and maybe surge the Republican Party even more than we thought.  That's what Reagan did to a degree fundamentally. He brought in the Reagan Democrats, working people who hadn't been with us, and achieved great victories.

CAVUTO: That is the arguing factor, and certainly he has brought in many, many new voters, to your point, sir.

But one of the things that Mitt Romney and others have mentioned is, but what is happening to the Republican brand? What is it? What does the party stand for? They talk about his views on tariffs and maybe enacting trade wars. They talk about a plan on illegal immigration that is inconsistent, that he says different things to different folks, maybe different things to the New York Times board of editors than he would to the regular folks.

Now, they could be overdramatizing this, but they just don't feel he is a real Republican, or is even a real conservative. So, what do you say to that?


SESSIONS: I would say a couple of things. Is it liberal to or conservative to believe we should have a lawful system of immigration that serves the interests of the United States of America? Now, that's conservative.

It's liberal and even radical to go along with this lawlessness we have today -- having a trade agreement with trading competitors who are tough. Mercantile is seeking advantage every single day, and we never defend the integrity of agreement, never insist that the American worker and American manufacturer be defended against unfair competition? How is that...

CAVUTO: Well, would you be for -- he has intimated that tariffs would be in order if everything else fails, let's say with the Chinese.


CAVUTO: Now, would you be for that?

SESSIONS: This is what Romney said in the primary eight years ago.  This is so important.

He said if you don't stand up to China, they will run over you. If you stand up to them, people like you will say, you are going to create a trade war. But he said we're already in a trade war. We are just not fighting

CAVUTO: No, I understand that, sir. I wasn't clear, that if you do enact tariffs and following up on talking tough, which is -- that would be the end result -- the fallout would be on the American consumers, right?

Wasn't that the fear his competitors raised, that American consumers would be paying dearly for that toughness?

SESSIONS: Well, you don't want to do it. That is true. You want to avoid that if we can.

But what Romney said was, they have more, China has more to lose than we do. They need our market more than we have to have their products, maybe a few cents more expensive somewhere else.

It will not devastate America, but we are getting hammered. Our manufacturing is being eroded. It really is, a lot of it as a result of unfair trade practices. It really is. Do we do nothing?

CAVUTO: Senator, let me ask you on that point, and then what they're saying and whether it works or not, did you notice in Governor Romney's remarks today, he didn't throw his support behind one candidate?

He urged the others, stay in the race, they're all good men, they would all do a great job.


CAVUTO: All but anticipating, if you buy the math, the more in the race, the more likely it is difficult for one to amass all the delegates before you get to Cleveland.

Do you think a brokered convention is possible, that we don't have all the delegates for one guy by the time you get to the convention?

SESSIONS: Well, you never know, do you?

It's a raucous campaign. It's a real battle royal. I like the other candidates. I would support them enthusiastically in November. I'm just afraid, to win this election, we need to appeal to that under $50,000-a- year voter. There's no numbers that add up to put you to victory other than doing better with them, and right now, the one candidate that is jelling with them is Trump.

CAVUTO: Senator, the Senate is known as a very gentlemanly, gentlewomanly environment.


CAVUTO: There's sort of a conduct that is respectful, admirable, and that the feeling seems to be that it's anything but among the Republican Party these days, and that it would be very, very tough for everyone to get along and march out united, assuming Donald Trump is the nominee, especially when people like Marco Rubio have called him a con man and Mitt Romney has called him a phony.

Do you think those guys could rally around Donald Trump in the end, if indeed he becomes the nominee?

SESSIONS: Neil, it is a real serious question.

And if they unite in a way that's perceived by the people and the new voters for Trump as being unfair and illegitimate, then it could create real damage to us.


CAVUTO: So, your recommendation, your recommendation to Marco Rubio, your recommendation to some of these others who said I could never support him, or I will sooner vote, as Christie Todd Whitman said to me, for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump, that they should cool that and start coming together now? What?

SESSIONS: I think they should continue their campaigns and support who they want, but, yes, we need to cool this rhetoric.

And I will tell you, I disagree with Republican members of Congress and the Senate, but there are a lot of great people there, and Trump would need to work with them. So he needs to understand that, in the end, we need to all get together. He is going to need the Congress.

CAVUTO: But doesn't he have to start that process?

SESSIONS: He needs to do...


CAVUTO: With the water bottle thing and Mitt Romney -- criticizing Marco Rubio, that that is not presidential, and so they don't forget that stuff either. It's led to ill will on both sides.

SESSIONS: We need to elevate the campaign rhetoric on all sides.

We need to be moved to more effort to deal with real issues, wages for American citizens, how we can help them have a better life. And yes, you're right, I truly believe that. But it's a free American republic.  From the beginning of the republic, there were some really rough campaigns.  And this is one of the roughest I have seen.

CAVUTO: Yes. But it always works out one way or the other, doesn't it, Senator?

SESSIONS: It does. It's a great country. It's hard to kill it off, thankfully.

CAVUTO: Yes. When I'm at family reunion, I just say, pass the pasta when they're yelling at each other, because eventually it all works out.


CAVUTO: Senator, thank you very much for taking the time.

SESSIONS: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: Senator Sessions, a big backer of one Donald Trump. All right.

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