Donald Trump has a lot options when it comes to running mates, and one of them just confirmed that he is open to the job. In an interview with the Daily Caller, Alabama Sen. Pete Sessions said that he “would consider” being the number two on Trump’s ticket if he “could help [Trump] in some way.” But this is an awful idea, because if Sessions is Trump’s vice presidential pick, it will be extremely difficult for the GOP to expand its support to the demographics it needs to reach in November.
“If I could help him in some way — and he were to ask me — I would consider it like any other citizen should,” Sessions said. “Can I help? Can I help the country do better if I accepted or not?”
It does make a degree of sense that Trump would pick Sessions. He’s a staunch conservative, which could reassure reluctant Republicans who see Trump as ideologically wishy-washy. He’s also a staunch anti-immigration hardliner, which is on-brand for Trump. In that sense, putting Sessions on the ticket could fix one of Trump’s weaknesses without contradicting or diminishing the main thrust of his candidacy.
But if the GOP truly wants to grow its support and make the party more appealing to non-white voters, nominating Sessions for vice president slot is an absolutely terrible decision.
After losing the 2012 election, the Republican Party concluded in its official autopsy report that the party “must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform." Otherwise, it concluded, the GOP's “appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.” The party also also recognized, more broadly, that “if we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them, and show them our sincerity.” The senator from Alabama is not the man for either task.
Sessions made a name for himself prosecuting civil rights leaders in the 1960s. A black attorney who used to work for him said that Sessions called him “boy,” and warned him to “be careful what you say to white folks.” Reportedly, he once referred to a white civil rights leader as “a disgrace to his race” for fighting to expand voting rights to black Americans, and said that the Ku Klux Klan was “OK” — except for the fact that some of them were “pot-smokers.” Oh, and he vehemently opposes comprehensive immigration reform.
Sessions denied making some of those racist comments. And to be sure, it’s not as if Trump himself hasn’t already alienated huge swaths of non-white voters with his own remarks about immigration and minorities. But putting Sessions on the ticket would only solidify the GOP’s terrible standing with non-white voters. The GOP is in a big demographic hole, and if Trump really wants to win this election, he needs to make that hole smaller, not bigger.