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Quarantine Routine is a regular feature that asks political power brokers how their daily lives have changed — and how they’re still doing their jobs — during the coronavirus crisis.
Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions admits it’s “a bit strange” to be running for office without being able to hit the road and campaign in-person.
But the former Republican senator — locked in a tough runoff battle with former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville for the Republican nomination for the Alabama Senate seat he once held — says he’s hearing a lot about China from voters as he works from home, but uses phone and video conferencing to campaign. (The March 31 contest with Tuberville was rescheduled by Alabama to July 14 because of the outbreak).
“It is amazing to do TV interviews with national networks and local stations across the state, from right here at home,” says former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
(Photo provided by Sessions campaign.)
“There has also been a lot of frustration and anger with China,” Sessions told Fox News. “People are very aware of how China covered up the virus, especially at the beginning in Wuhan, and Alabamians want the Chinese government to be held accountable.”
Sessions – who says he and his wife, Mary, take a break from working by sitting on their back porch to enjoy the Alabama weather – explained his new daily campaign routine amid coronavirus in a Q&A with Fox News:
How has your daily routine changed since social distancing measures began?
Sessions: Mary and I are striving to comply with the social distancing guidelines, staying here at home in Mobile. But like many Americans, I am working hard now from home. A lot can be accomplished with platforms like Zoom and Skype, and I have used both to conduct over a dozen conference calls with various civic groups and TV interviews with state and national networks. And I have done several dozen other conference calls and radio interviews over the phone. So with those tools, combined with social media, I have been able to stay very active in communicating with voters in Alabama.
It is amazing to do TV interviews with national networks and local stations across the state, from right here at home. By far, the broadest outreach has been doing a host of interviews with radio stations across Alabama, as well as several national shows like Hugh Hewitt’s.
“By far, the broadest outreach has been doing a host of interviews with radio stations across Alabama, as well as several national shows like Hugh Hewitt’s,” says Sessions.
(Photo provided by Sessions campaign.)
On Tuesday, I did a Zoom call with a Republican women’s group from Huntsville and I also did a conference call with the Republican clubs from Autauga and Elmore counties. On Thursday, I did a conference call with a group in Pickens County. The Q&As give you a sense of what people are concerned about—the No. 1 concern people have is the pandemic and how we can get the economy safely reopened and get people back to work.
There has also been a lot of frustration and anger with China. People are very aware of how China covered up the virus, especially at the beginning in Wuhan, and Alabamians want the Chinese government to be held accountable. I recently did a Facebook Live where I took questions people had on China, and that was a useful way to connect with voters and explain my “Betting on America” plan to reset the U.S. relationship with China and make the communist Chinese government pay for its lies.
Even though the method of communicating has changed, people want to see real plans, actionable ideas, for how we can come through this crisis stronger than ever. Now certainly isn’t the time to passively sit on the sidelines, idly twiddling your thumbs.
What are the biggest challenges in doing your job during this crisis?
Sessions: While it is frustrating to not be able to venture out to campaign, as I love to do, Mary and I truly appreciate those who are out there daily serving Alabama’s communities: the law enforcement officers and first responders, health care providers, and the clerks running the checkout lines and the stockers keeping the shelves full at our grocery markets. Our inconveniences are very small compared to the hard work of a lot of people, and the risk and challenges that they are facing. But Alabamians are tough, confident, resourceful, and independent, and we are going to beat this pandemic and emerge stronger than ever.
What do you miss the most about how you did your job before this began?
Sessions: Well, I miss being out on the road, visiting with folks across Alabama and hearing their stories and perspectives. I talk on the phone regularly with small business owners and people from a variety of backgrounds to hear how they are doing, but you just learn so much when you are out meeting with folks from every corner of the state. When I served as senator before, I visited every one of Alabama’s 67 counties yearly, and it is a bit strange now to not have that in-person communication with people.
What surprised you the most about how life has changed?
Sessions: I am thankful that technology allows us to stay connected with our family, even if we can’t go visit them. We have 10 grandchildren, and while we really miss seeing them in person, it’s been good to keep up with them via FaceTime and the like. Although the grandkids seem to be getting antsy—I am proud that my children and their spouses have taken the opportunity to take the kids hiking and go on historical field trips, which has helped the grandkids blow off some excess energy.
How do you blow off steam?
Sessions: Even though I haven’t been on the road, I have stayed busy. This last week, I did 23 events where I was either talking directly to voters on conference calls or doing interviews with TV, radio, and print outlets from across Alabama, as well as with a few national organizations like Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council. And just in the past few weeks, I have done interviews with Hugh Hewitt, Ben Shapiro, Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo, and Tucker Carlson. So we haven’t slowed down that much. I go for a walk every day, and Mary and I will sit on our back porch at least once a day, enjoying the beautiful Mobile spring weather. It has been good to see families outside more, riding bicycles and walking together. Several times a week, we will get take-out from our favorite local restaurants in Mobile, doing what we can to support small businesses during this tough time.