As thousands of Alabamians packed into a football stadium on the Gulf Coast Friday night for a rally in support of Donald Trump, one of the Senate’s most conservative members put on a white “Make America Great Again” hat and offered support for the candidate’s immigration plan.
The appearance by Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions at the Trump rally was a surprise. While the Republican senator didn’t explicitly endorse Trump’s presidential bid at Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles stadium, his appearance and brief remarks could go a long way with conservatives who care deeply about the issue of illegal immigration.
Near the beginning of the speech, Trump praised Sessions, who advised the New York businessman on his recent proposal to curb illegal immigration, and invited him on stage.
“I will say this,” Trump said, “we have a great politician here. We have a man here who really helped me…because he’s been spot on, he’s so highly respected. Has anybody ever heard of Sen. Jeff Sessions?”
“Jeff, come up,” Trump said as the crowd roared. “Get over here Jeff…unbelievable guy.”
Taking the microphone, Sessions said: “The American people, these people, want somebody in the presidency who stands up for them, defends their interests and the laws and traditions of this country.”
“We welcome you here,” the senator added. “Thank you for the work you’ve put into the immigration issue. I’m really impressed with your plan. And I know it will make a difference, and this crowd shows a lot of people agree with that.”
Last Sunday, Trump’s campaign released his immigration policy, which includes things like building a fence along the border, restricting the admission of new low-earning workers and ending birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants.
In recent days, Trump predicted 30,000 people attend the rally at the stadium where college games like the Senior Bowl and GoDaddy.com Bowl are played every year. But a large number of seats in the 40,000-capacity stadium were visibly empty by the time Trump took the stage.
Still, it was likely the largest campaign rally of any candidate so far this cycle.
Trump’s near hour-long, wide-ranging speech covered everything from why he doesn’t think Jeb Bush should be president to his business ventures and books.
At one point, in a play to the conservative crowd, Trump talked about how his book, “The Art of the Deal,” is his second favorite book — next to the Bible.
He promised to make the country rich, said the media is less popular than Congress, referenced his NBC show “The Apprentice,” described his battles with Univision, made fun of Secretary of State John Kerry for recently breaking his leg on a bike and promised to “fix” women’s health. He also predicted he would be “the greatest jobs president god ever created.”
Speaking without a teleprompter, Trump got boos when he mentioned Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, who he attacked by name at several points.
“Let’s say Jeb becomes president,” Trump said, “first thing that happens, like I say, your schools go to hell, people flow over the river…”
Trump’s plane did a fly-over of the stadium as he arrived in Mobile. But he wasn’t the only one to take advantage of aerial advertising.
A super PAC supporting Bush’s presidential campaign also buzzed the field. “Trump 4 higher taxes, Jeb 4 prez,” said the banner flying behind the small plane.
Ending his speech, Trump said: “I am going to make this country bigger and stronger and better and you’re going to love it and you’re going to love your president and we’re going to turn this place around and you’re going to be so proud.”
Trump then exited the football field as Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” played.