President Donald Trump touted Sarah Huckabee Sanders, his outgoing press secretary, as a potential candidate for governor of Arkansas as he kicked off his own 2020 re-election campaign.
"By the way, a woman who has been so good, so talented, so wonderful and we’re sort of going to be losing, I have a feeling she’s going to be running for a certain gubernatorial position," Trump told an enthusiastic crowd as he prepared to call for Sanders to take the stage.
He added, "But a woman who’s a special woman — and her father, by the way, he’s out there fighting for us all the time — Sarah Huckabee Sanders."
When Sanders took the stage, she described working for Trump as the "honor of a lifetime." The press secretary expressed her gratitude to the president for the opportunity to sit at the "front row of history and watch you drastically change our country for the better." She predicted that Trump would win a second term, telling a cheering audience that "he made America great again and continues to make America great. He’s going to have an incredible six more years."
Trump first announced that Sanders was stepping down last week in a pair of tweets , which suggested she was leaving the White House in a rare position: on good terms with the president.
"After 3 1/2 years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas...." Trump posted in his first tweet.
He continued, "....She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job! I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas - she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!"
If Sanders does choose to run for governor of Arkansas — and "she's extremely serious," as one source tells Politico — she would be following in the footsteps of her father, Mike Huckabee, who served as that state's chief executive from 1996 to 2007. Huckabee himself ran for the presidency on three occasions — in 2008, when he lost the nomination to Sen. John McCain of Arizona; in 2012, when he lost the nomination to Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts; and in 2016, when he lost the nomination to Trump.
After replacing Sean Spicer — whose reputation never fully recovered after falsely claiming on Day One of the administration that Trump's inaugural crowd "was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration" — Sanders quickly developed a reputation as a staunch defender of the president. Journalists and critics have accused her of knowingly lying in order to promote the president's agenda — "There's no question that she spread lies at this point," "New Day" co-host John Berman once said on CNN — while Sanders has claimed that the media has covered the president in an unfair manner.
However, as my colleague Sophia Tesfaye wrote of one revelation from the Mueller report, "When Sanders faced the press at two different press conferences in May of 2017 to explain Trump’s firing of James Comey as FBI director, she told bald-faced lies." She elaborated in an article titled, "After Mueller, WHite House press secretary is toast":