Election 2020

Sessions: Trump-Pence Split on Iraq War Won't Hurt Campaign

CLEVELAND – Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said vice presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence’s vote in favor of the Iraq war would not hurt GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has made his opposition to the war an essential part of his campaign.

“No, I don’t think it will. I mean, I voted for the Iraq war. I supported the Iraq war, virtually all of us did. We supported President Bush and we tried to be helpful and supportive but I think in retrospect you can go back and say, as Pence said, it was a close call,” Sessions told PJM at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“Maybe we should have been more careful and certainly we didn’t anticipate some of the things that probably could have been anticipated as that war went along, so I don’t think that’s a problem,” he added.

Sessions, chairman of Trump’s national security advisory committee, was asked if Trump should support boots on the ground in Iraq to defeat ISIS in the region.

“That’s the kind of thing you have to be really careful about. We do not want to get back into a big combat role in Iraq or anywhere in the Middle East. I’m personally going to be a lot more careful about when we think about deploying military force, but who knows,” he said. “There will be situations in which you meet with your generals, study your intelligence and maybe there’s a decisive action we could take that would change the whole situation, but that’s the kind of thing that just takes the best intelligence and the president has to be smart – make tough calls – and I think Trump can do that.”

PJM asked Sessions if Pence and Trump’s differing views on the Iraq War could make it harder to attack Clinton for voting in favor of the war.

“She now pulled out of Iraq. She was secretary of State when we terribly, awfully, disastrously pulled all our troops out in 2011. I mean, just a small number of troops not in a combat role – I am telling you, that country would not have turned into the situation it is,” he responded. “ISIS would not have been able to take a third of it. Now we’re trying to have to help the people take it back and that’s just a disaster for Iraq and it should never have happened.”

Melania Trump’s primetime speech on Monday sparked controversy over two paragraphs that resemble Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. Sessions said the incident would not hurt Trump’s campaign.

“I don’t think so at all. I mean, the most important thing is for Melania and the Trump family to be able to speak as to who they are – truthfully represent who they are, and she is a lady of poise, intelligence, she loves the family, she delivered a message that showed she is quite capable of being first lady and I think people liked her,” he said.