- Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House deputy press secretary, has gained prominence in recent months as she’s taken on more public-facing duties on President Donald Trump’s communications team.
And with White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s resignation on Friday, she could be next in line for his job.
Unlike many of the president’s top aides, Sanders was bred in politics. She’s the daughter of former Arkansas governor and two-time presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, and she served as field director for her father’s 2002 gubernatorial reelection campaign, was the national political director for his 2008 presidential campaign, and headed his 2016 presidential bid.
“I always say that when most kids are seven or eight years old out jumping rope, she was sitting at the kitchen table listening to [political commentators] analyze poll results,” Mike Huckabee told Fox News in May.
Her work on several Republican politicians’ campaigns landed her on Time’s 40 Under 40 list in 2010, alongside other top political minds, including Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and Nick Ayers, who was selected this week to be Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff. In her Time interview, Sanders called her father her political “inspiration,” and praised President Barack Obama for addressing what she said was the most overlooked issue facing the nation: kids who are “victims of broken families.”
Following Huckabee’s withdrawal from the 2016 Republican primary race in February 2016, Sanders signed on as a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, later becoming a frequent spokesperson. Since January, she’s served as the principal deputy press secretary at the White House and, more recently, has shared press briefing responsibilities with Spicer.
Sanders followed in her dad’s footsteps from a young age, attending college at his alma mater, Ouachita Baptist University, a private liberal arts school in Arkansas. After college, she worked for the Department of Education under President George W. Bush, worked on Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004, and staffed a couple of Senate campaigns before joining her dad’s 2008 presidential campaign. She has called the former governor a “hero.”
- Twitter/Sarah Huckabee
On the Trump campaign, Sanders was tasked with developing communications targeting faith leaders, gun rights supporters, and military groups. She frequented cable news networks as a surrogate, defending Trump’s actions and explaining his policy positions.
- Twitter/Sarah Huckabee
Sanders is married to a Republican political strategist, Bryan Sanders, whom she hired to work on her father’s 2008 campaign. The two married in 2010, co-founded a political consulting firm, Second Street Strategies in Little Rock, Arkansas, and have two daughters and a son all under the age of 5.
- Twitter/Bryan Sanders
As principal deputy press secretary, Sanders works with Lindsay Walters, her co-deputy press secretary, and others on the communications team to liaise with the news media and craft the administration’s public messaging.
- Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Sanders first took on White House press briefing responsibilities on May 5, when she filled in for Spicer, who was out on Naval Reserve duty. Since then, she has become a regular behind the briefing podium.
- Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Ever since Stephanie Grisham, now Melania Trump’s communications director, and Mike Dubke, the former White House communications director, left Trump’s communication team, Sanders has become more visible and is considered a top candidate to take over Spicer’s job.
Mike Huckabee called Saturday Night Live’s parody of his daughter “sexist,” but had previously told the AP, “One of the great honors of life is to be parodied … It’s kind of an indication that you’ve arrived at a place of real power.”
As Sanders’ public presence has grown, she has come under increasing fire from reporters and Democrats, who regularly accuse her of lying to the public and bullying the press.
- Fox News
Source: The Washington Post