For San­ders, path to press secretary be­gan in Arkansas

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

New White House press secretary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders was schooled in hard­scrab­ble politics - and down-home rhetoric - from a young age by her fa­ther, for­mer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huck­abee. Her way with a zinger - and her un­shak­able loy­alty to an of­ten un­pre­dictable boss - are big rea­sons why she be­came a ris­ing star in Pres­i­dent Donald Trump’s or­bit. She’ll take over for Sean Spicer, who abruptly an­nounced Fri­day that he’s re­sign­ing, ef­fec­tive at the end of Au­gust.

San­ders steps into what has been deemed the most dif­fi­cult job in Wash­ing­ton. Her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties are not just to do com­bat with a feisty White House press corps but to try to please a mer­cu­rial pres­i­dent who fan­cies him­self his own best spokesman. Trump of­ten presents his own thoughts di­rectly on Twit­ter in the early hours of the morn­ing and is known to closely follow his sur­ro­gates on television, as­sess­ing their per­for­mances. He has been happy with San­ders’ ad­vo­cacy, says Kellyanne Con­way, a coun­selor to the pres­i­dent.

“She un­der­stands Amer­ica. She un­der­stands the pres­i­dent. And she un­der­stands how to con­nect the two,” Con­way told The Associated Press in March. “The pres­i­dent has a great deal of trust in Sarah.” San­ders, in her de­but brief­ing af­ter the an­nounce­ment of her pro­mo­tion, promised to “be as open, hon­est and trans­par­ent with you all as hu­manly pos­si­ble.” Her lowkey ap­proach, which came af­ter a 37-minute charm of­fen­sive from new communications di­rec­tor Anthony Scaramucci, was in stark con­trast to Spicer’s de­but in the role. Spicer, in his first brief­ing, be­rated re­porters about un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the size of Trump’s in­au­gu­ral crowds and re­fused to take ques­tions.

Dif­fuse prob­lems

San­ders, who will be the third fe­male press secretary in his­tory, cred­its her larg­erthan-life dad with help­ing her learn how to de­liver a mes­sage. Huck­abee, a fre­quent po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor, has long been famed for his pithy rhetoric.

The two speak most days be­fore 6 am. “I’ll call and say, ‘What do you think if I say this?’ He’ll say, ‘That’s re­ally good. You might try to say it a lit­tle bit more like X,’” she said.

But while she of­ten opts to dif­fuse prob­lems with some down-home South­ern charm, she can also be com­bat­ive. Last month, she got into a heated ex­change with a re­porter who ac­cused the White House of try­ing to an­tag­o­nize the press corps and snapped, “I think it is out­ra­geous for you to ac­cuse me of in­flam­ing a story when I was sim­ply try­ing to re­spond to his ques­tion.” On ad­vo­cat­ing for the un­con­ven­tional Trump, San­ders ad­mits that even in the press of­fice, they don’t al­ways get a heads-up be­fore Trump tweets. But she says part of Trump’s ap­peal is that he “di­rectly com­mu­ni­cates with the Amer­i­can peo­ple on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.” And now she is thrust into the role that made Spicer a house­hold name and the butt of “Satur­day Night Live” skits. San­ders, too, has been por­trayed on the long-run­ning show, and now she is who most Amer­i­cans will see when they get news from the White House - if the ad­min­is­tra­tion re­turns the brief­ing to an on-cam­era for­mat.

Out­sider at­ti­tude

Arkansas-raised, San­ders is mar­ried to a Repub­li­can con­sul­tant and moved her young fam­ily to Wash­ing­ton to be part of the ad­min­is­tra­tion. She joined the Trump cam­paign not long af­ter her fa­ther’s sec­ond pres­i­den­tial bid which she man­aged - fiz­zled out in the 2016 Iowa cau­cuses. She said she was drawn to Trump’s mes­sage of eco­nomic pop­ulism and his out­sider at­ti­tude.

Demo­cratic can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton - a for­mer first lady, sen­a­tor and secretary of state - was seen by many as the ul­ti­mate in­sider. “One of the big things my dad was run­ning on was chang­ing Wash­ing­ton, break­ing that cy­cle,” San­ders said last spring. “I felt like the out­sider com­po­nent was im­por­tant and I thought he had the abil­ity to ac­tu­ally win and de­feat Hil­lary.” — AP

— AP

WASH­ING­TON: Sarah Huck­abee San­ders who has been named White House press secretary walks to the podium dur­ing the press brief­ing in the Brady Press Brief­ing room of the White House.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.