Politics

Sessions: Tough to Let Cruz Leapfrog Trump After N.Y.

Trump's sole Senate backer cites his dominance in Tuesday's primary

Sen. Jeff Sessions endorsed Donald Trump at a rally in Madison, Ala., in late February. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After Donald Trump's big primary win in New York, his sole Senate backer says it's going to be tougher for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to present himself as an alternative at the Republican National Convention.  

"It'll be hard for any of these candidates to argue, it seems to me, they should leap over somebody that clobbered them in a big state like New York, especially when they have fewer delegates and fewer votes nationwide," Sen. Jeff Sessions said, adding that Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont actually had a better case on the Democratic side than either Cruz or Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.  

"Trump is strengthening his position, not slipping," the Alabama Republican said.  

The victory in New York on Tuesday brings Trump's delegate total to 845, still shy of the 1,237 needed to clinch the nomination but far more than Cruz's 559 and Kasich's 147, according to the Associated Press delegate tracker .  

Sessions, who endorsed Trump in late February , also said Wednesday that while he only got to know Trump's new campaign operative Paul Manafort in recent weeks, he was impressed with the campaign veteran who has begun to retool the Manhattan businessman's political operation ahead of a potential contested convention.  

"The campaign team has done a magnificent job to date, but I do think that his experience in presidential campaigns is a very positive addition to the Trump efforts," Sessions said. "He had a good visit yesterday on the Hill. He [met] three different groups of House members, and I think those went well."  

Sessions said the Trump operation has had a few logistical challenges in its path toward the Republican nomination, but Manafort is likely to keep building out a team.  

"I think the hire of Manafort also signals an expansion of the number of people. Just because so many people are calling in, you can't even return the calls … as small as they were to begin with," Sessions said. "This is a national movement, I think."  

Contact Lesniewski at nielslesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.