After former Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced her intent to run for governor of Arkansas on Jan. 25, 2021 in the state’s 2022 election, people weren’t surprised. Many outlets, like ABC News and Business Insider, called the former White House press secretary’s bid for Arkansas’ gubernatorial seat a de facto litmus test for former President Donald Trump’s staying power within the Republican party. Such outlets also wondered if Huckabee’s ties to the former president will aid her with regards to the GOP voter base.
It’s not a theory without foundation — as NPR noted, Sanders’ 2020 memoir Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom, and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House spoke highly of Trump, as well as her own role in his administration, both as a campaign manager and as a White House aide.
Equally unsurprising was Trump’s own response to Sanders’ declaration of intent to run for office, despite the fact that it marks one of the few times Trump himself has publicly spoken on any given matter since ending his term as president in January 2021, paired with his permanent suspension from almost every mainstream social media platform. So what did Trump have to say on the matter? And how does it speak to how Trump feels about Sanders in general? Read on below to find out.
Donald Trump had a strong reaction to Sarah Huckabee Sanders' run for governor
Soon after Sarah Huckabee Sanders formally announced her decision to run for governor in Arkansas in a nearly eight-minute video, a number of Republican politicians spoke in favor of Sanders’ decision to enter the race. Such politicians included including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sanders’ father, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, per The Hill. But perhaps Sanders’ most ringing endorsement came from none other than former President Donald Trump himself, who issued a statement via his own political action committee to reify his support of his former aide’s political ambitions.
“Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a warrior who will always fight for the people of Arkansas and do what is right, not what is politically correct,” Trump said in his statement. “Sarah will be a GREAT Governor, and she has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”
Trump’s words echoed sentiments Sanders wove throughout her own announcement, many of which included her hard stances on issues like gun ownership and “freedom of speech.” She also used her speech to blast the Democratic party, members of the left, and mainstream media. “I took on the media, the radical left and their ‘cancel culture,’ and I won. As governor, I will be your voice, and never let them silence you,” Sanders said at the time.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been a die-hard supporter of Donald Trump
As Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ own words and her career history might suggest, the former campaign manager and White House press secretary has been a staunch supporter of Donald Trump for years. Considering Sanders’ own familial political legacy — she herself is the daughter of Republican politician Mike Huckabee, who served as the governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007 — her conservative leanings seem almost hereditary. In that vein, so too does her own allegiance to Trump, despite her decision to leave his administration in 2019 after serving as press secretary for only two years.
Sanders’ sentiments towards the former commander-in-chief have been almost codified due to those expressed in her own memoir. In one passage, per NPR, she went as far as to say that she not only “loved” her job as press secretary, but “loved the president and most of the people I worked with.”
As NPR pointed out, she used her memoir as an opportunity to also endorse Trump’s 2020 (now failed) bid for re-election. But the nature of their mutual alliance was not only apparent in Sanders’ recent statement of gubernatorial intent, but Trump’s endorsement as well.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders' political platform strongly mirrors that of the Trump administration
In her January 2021 announcement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders spoke broadly about her conservative platform points for the 2022 Arkansas gubernatorial race, most of which adhered strongly to those former President Donald Trump supported during his term in office. Among them included anti-immigration stances — specifically barring the existence of sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants and workers — within the state, as well as opposing policies favored by the Biden administration, such as the Green New Deal, per ABC News.
Taking Sanders’ cue regarding the conservative platform she outlined in her announcement speech, Trump seemingly piggy-backed and superimposed the policy stances he oversaw during his first term as commander-in-chief. The most notable example of this appeared to be Trump’s opinion that Sanders is “strong on Borders,” possibly referencing his own large-scale project to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexican border during his presidency. (While Sanders did praise Trump’s anti-immigration policies, she did not mention anything regarding a border wall regarding Arkansas specifically, considering the state of Arkansas does not share a border with Mexico.)
Whether or not this is the case, Sanders seemed to heed it no mind. After issuing his endorsement, Sanders thanked the ex-president in a retweet, thanking him for “always believing” in her.
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