By Erik Wasson - 06/12/14 02:11 PM EDT
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) argued Thursday that he can bring an end to disunity and disarray in the House by restoring "red state" priorities that his chief rival for majority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), may be unwilling or unable to pursue.
Sessions emerged from a lunch with the Texas delegation strongly denying rumors that he was dropping out of the race and exuding confidence that he can beat McCarthy despite only having one week to campaign ahead of June 19 leadership elections.
“We several times have found ourselves tangled in our ability to get all of our team together. That is all I say, that is not blaming anybody. I will offer that I can bring us together,” he told reporters.
Sessions stopped short of saying McCarthy has been a bad whip when asked about embarrassing floor mishaps, such as over the farm bill and appropriations measures.
“If we are together then we understand what’s in the bills and why we have got to vote on it,” he said. “I’d get from a team perspective and I would start with a good solid conservative base.”
Sessions noted that Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), a favorite of Tea Party members in the House, has “pitched his support to me.”
“I am running for majority leader on an agenda that can bring us together and to start with an agenda that is more red-state oriented,” he said.
The top priority for Sessions will be passing a bill to beef up border security to stop the tide of illegal immigration.
“We are going to bring back attention to the border and then people can have confidence that we can do a lot of other things together,” he argued.
On spending, Sessions said that he believes in finishing the current set of appropriations bills for 2015 quickly but would look to craft an agreement for 2016 and beyond that does more to tackle the national debt.
“I start from the perspective of I come from a red state and see things in terms of what is good for the country, and modeling those things and selling those attributes will help us win the House, the Senate and the presidency,” he said.
Sessions said that he wished the election was later than June 19 but he was not consulted in setting the date.
“I was not asked about that,” he said.
Sessions was asked if he thinks McCarthy has it all but locked up, and Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) jumped in.
"Eric Cantor thought he had it locked up too back in his own district," Weber said.
“That is perhaps a good point,” Sessions said.