Sarah Huckabee Sanders stepping down - What's Your Point?

This week’s panel: Wayne Dolcefino – media consultant, Laura Moser – former Democratic congressional candidate, Bob Price – Associate Editor of Breitbart Texas, Chris Tritico – FOX 26 legal analyst, Jacquie Baly – UH Downtown Political Science Professor Antonio Diaz- writer, educator and radio host, talk about White House Pres Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stepping down.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, whose tenure was marked by a breakdown in regular press briefings and questions about the administration's credibility, will leave her post at the end of the month, President Donald Trump announced Thursday. 

Trump, calling Sanders forward at an unrelated event in the East Room, called her “strong, but with a great, great heart” and said he was encouraging her to run for governor as she returns home to Arkansas.

She has been one of Trump's closest and most trusted White House aides and one of the few remaining on staff who worked on his campaign.

Sanders said serving as press secretary had been “an honor of a lifetime.”

“I couldn't be prouder to have had the opportunity to serve my country and particularly to work for this president,” she said. “I loved every minute. Even the hard minutes.”

Sanders added that she plans to spend more time with her three children, but will continue to be “the most outspoken and loyal supporters” of the president.

Trump first made the announcement Thursday on Twitter, saying she will leave her position at the end of June.

“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 wrote. “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,” the president added.

Sanders has served in the Trump administration since he took office in January 2017. She succeeded Sean Spicer, Trump's first press secretary, in July 2017 and was the third female to hold the position in history.

A replacement was not immediately named.

The daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders 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.

Under Sanders' tenure, regular White House press briefings became a relic of the past. She has not held a formal briefing since March 11. Reporters often catch her on the White House driveway after she is interviewed by Fox News Channel or other TV news outlets.

Her credibility has also come under question.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report revealed that Sanders admitted to investigators that she had made an unfounded claim about "countless" FBI agents reaching out to express support for Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - June 14, 2019 Long before she became the spokeswoman for the Trump administration, Sarah Sanders was a well-known figure in Arkansas who appeared in campaign ads for her dad and learned about the state's rough-and-tumble politics by working on his campaign and others.

Now, speculation that Sanders may run for governor in her home state shakes up a race that's three years away but was already expected to be a crowded and expensive fight among Republicans.

Trump announced Thursday that Sanders was leaving as White House press secretary and encouraged her to run for Arkansas governor, a job her dad held for 10 ½ years. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson was re-elected in November and the seat will open up in 2022 when he's barred by term limits from running again.

Sanders hasn't ruled out running for office when she returns to Arkansas. Aside from her experience working for a president who remains popular in Arkansas, she'd have name recognition and experience that goes back to former Gov. Mike Huckabee's first run for office nearly three decades ago, GOP leaders say.

"Certainly she's grown up in (the state's politics). Not only has she grown up in it, she's experienced it at every level," said U.S. Sen. John Boozman, whose 2010 campaign Sanders managed.

Her dad no longer lives in Arkansas, but Sanders could still tap into the same network of supporters who helped elevate him to the governor's mansion and backed his unsuccessful White House bids if she runs for the state's top office, political observers say.

"You've got a core group of people who have rallied around the Huckabees since that first race in 1992," said Rex Nelson, a senior editor for The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and former longtime aide to Huckabee.

No one has announced a bid for governor in Arkansas, where Republicans control every statewide office and both chambers of the Legislature. The other potential candidates include some of the state's top GOP officials, including Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and state Senate President Jim Hendren.

Griffin applauded Sanders' return to her home state on Twitter: "Like all Arkansans I thank Sarah for her service to @realDonaldTrump and welcome her back to Arkansas!"

Rutledge, who worked in Huckabee's office and on his presidential campaign, said she was glad Sanders was coming home. Rutledge said she's been approached by numerous people asking if she'd run, but said it's premature to talk about 2022 with next year's election approaching.

"I think it's too early for people to speculate," she said.

Hendren also said he's had several people ask him to consider running, but said it's too early to make any decisions.

"I'm not going to rule anything out, but it's pretty premature to start spending a lot of time on that decision," said Hendren, who is the governor's nephew.

The possibility of Sanders running is enticing to Democrats, who say it would draw national attention and money to a race that otherwise would be written off.

"There are probably a number of Democrats who would love to step up and challenge Sarah Huckabee Sanders if she was going to be the nominee," state Democratic Party Chairman Michael John Gray said.