Sessions steps up attacks on Tuberville ahead of runoff

President Donald Trump gestures as he steps off Air Force One at Dallas Love Field, Thursday, June 11, 2020, in Dallas with Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has stepped up attacks against his Senate primary rival, accusing former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville of hiding and being unprepared for Washington.

“Today, I’m challenging my opponent to come out of hiding,” Sessions said at a stop at Sweet Creek, a restaurant and produce market, outside Montgomery.

“He says he’s tough. He says he’s strong, but he won’t answer basic questions the people of Alabama need to have answered. So, I would say he’s not strong. I say he’s weak. I say he is not ready to take on the powerful forces in Washington that I have had to battle for many, many years.”

Tuberville and Sessions face off in the July 14 Republican runoff for Sessions’ former Senate seat that he resigned to become President Donald Trump’s first attorney general. Tuberville narrowly led Sessions, who was wounded by Trump’s criticisms, in the spring primary, leaving the Sessions camp scrambling to make up ground before the runoff that was postponed until summer because of COVID-19.

Sessions safely held the seat for 20 years before stepping down to become Trump’s first attorney general, a position he was later forced to resign after Trump was unhappy with his recusal in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Tuberville has tried to focus the race on Trump’s criticism of Sessions. Trump has endorsed Tuberville. Sessions has tried to steer the race back to his long record in Washington and questioning Tuberville’s background.

“I have stood with you. I have advanced our values,” Sessions said.

The winner will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in November as Republicans seek to recapture the once reliably red state.