New White House press secretary 'calm' and 'nice'

Ms Sarah Huckabee Sanders was listed by Time Magazine in 2010 as one of America's top political minds.
Ms Sarah Huckabee Sanders was listed by Time Magazine in 2010 as one of America's top political minds.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Ms Sarah Huckabee Sanders, recently promoted to replace Mr Sean Spicer as White House press secretary, might find herself having to smooth many ruffled feathers.

For her new boss, White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, is said to be ruthless, passionate, driven and combative, by people who know him or who have seen him at work.

In contrast, Ms Sanders, 34, is described as pleasant and equable.

"She is a very calm, very nice person," a Republican insider told The Straits Times. The insider who spoke on condition of anonymity described Mr Scaramucci as "not terribly smart or qualified".

Unlike Mr Scaramucci, Ms Sanders, who has two brothers, can boast of a solid political pedigree. Her father, who is her inspiration, is former Arkansas governor and two-time presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

"When most kids are seven or eight years old out jumping rope, she was sitting at the kitchen table listening to (political commentators) analyse poll results," her father told Fox News in May.

 

Unlike Mr Scaramucci, Ms Sanders, who has two brothers, can boast of a solid political pedigree. Her father, who is her inspiration, is former Arkansas governor and two-time presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

She is married to Republican strategist Bryan Sanders, with whom she founded political consultancy Second Street Strategies, based in Little Rock, Arkansas.

In 2010, Ms Sanders, who graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas, was listed by Time Magazine among the country's top 40 political minds.

Last year, she worked on the Trump campaign, reaching out to faith leaders and gun rights supporters, among others.

In her first press briefing since her promotion to White House press secretary, Ms Sanders, a mother of three, silenced a room full of normally fidgety journalists with a personal statement.

She was the first working mum to have this job, she told them. And she said her oldest child, Scarlett, was due to begin kindergarten.

"Scarlett and every little girl in America should grow up in a country that - if we deliver on the President's agenda of better jobs, better healthcare and a better tax system - incentivises women to work and raise children," she said.

"As a working mum, it's not lost on me what a great honour and privilege it is to stand here at the podium," she added.

Barely a week into her new role, Ms Sanders already found herself having to defend her new boss.

Asked last week about Mr Scaramucci's notorious tirade against a New Yorker reporter, she reacted with typical unflappability.

"Sometimes he's a passionate guy," she said simply.

Nirmal Ghosh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2017, with the headline 'New White House press secretary 'calm' and 'nice''. Print Edition | Subscribe