Trump press secretary Sanders wins nomination for GOP Arkansas governor

Sanders headed into the primary virtually assured of the nomination, and she remains a big favorite in the general election in a state that hasn’t voted for a Democrat for governor since 2010. Nuclear engineer and ordained minister Chris Jones won the Democratic nomination on Tuesday. .

During his victory speech on Tuesday, Sanders did not mention Trump or Biden and cited the fatal shooting of at least 19 children at a Texas elementary school as a “stark and humiliating reminder of the value of life.”

“Every life has value and the most vulnerable among us should be the ones we fight for and protect the most,” Sanders said. “I can assure you that in my administration, that is exactly what we are going to do. We will ensure that when a child is in the womb, they are as safe as they are in the classroom, at work, at the nursing home, because every stage of life has value.

As Trump’s spokesman, Sanders was one of his closest aides in the White House and was the face of an administration that contributed to the country’s deep division. She comes at a time when Republicans nationwide are embracing the president’s rhetoric and approach on a number of issues, including immigration policy and how race is taught in schools.

Sanders joked Tuesday night about her move from press secretary to candidate.

“When I worked at the White House, nobody ever clapped when I walked up to the podium,” she said. “It’s different, but I like it much better.”

During Sanders’ nearly two-year tenure in the White House, she cut back on daily televised briefings after repeatedly getting into fights with reporters who questioned her aggressively. She faced questions about her credibility, particularly after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed that Sanders admitted to making an unfounded claim to reporters about the FBI agents’ reaction to the director’s firing. James Comey. But she also earned the respect of journalists by working behind the scenes to develop relationships with the media.

She faced similar credibility issues after Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, surprised the White House by saying on national television that Trump had reimbursed his then-fixer, Michael Cohen, for the $130,000 Cohen had paid porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet during the campaign. about an alleged past sexual encounter with Trump. Trump denied Daniels’ claim.

The White House had not disclosed the reimbursement. Sanders said she didn’t know anything about the refund until Giuliani disclosed it.

Sanders in his ads has embraced Trump’s endorsement and rhetoric, promising to use the state’s highest office to fight Biden and the “radical left,” something that’s woefully hard to come by in a state where none Democrat holds office at the state or federal level. She also invoked one of Trump’s favorite targets, the national news media.

“As the White House press secretary, I never had to worry about what the far left and their allies at CNN or the New York Times would define me,” Sanders said in a spot. televised. “Because I have a creator who has done it before.”

But she danced more delicately around some of Trump’s biggest grievances, particularly his lies that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

Sanders in interviews stopped short of calling the presidential election stolen, unlike Trump-endorsed candidates in Pennsylvania, Georgia and elsewhere who ran on his false claims. Sanders said she believes Trump has the right to declare the election stolen, although she said she could not say how many frauds there were in 2020. An Associated Press review of each Potential voter fraud cases in the six battleground states contested by Trump found less than 475 — a number that would have made no difference in the 2020 presidential election.

“What I know is that the country would be infinitely better off right now if Donald Trump was in the White House,” Sanders told the AP in an interview earlier this month.

She also avoided publicly criticizing incumbent Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson, even after the former president called Hutchinson a RINO — Republican In Name Only — for vetoing an anti-transgender law. Sanders said she would have signed off on that measure, which the GOP legislature enacted by overriding Hutchinson. Hutchinson, who plans to run for president in 2024, has often parted ways with the former president.

Hutchinson endorsed Sanders in November after his two main rivals for the nomination – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge – dropped out to seek other positions. Hutchinson was barred by term limits from standing for re-election.

Trump publicly encouraged Sanders to run for governor when she left the White House in 2019 to return to her home state.

Sanders was already well known in Arkansas politics, dating back to when she appeared in ads for her father’s campaigns. She led the election of Sen. John Boozman in 2010 and worked as an adviser to Sen. Tom Cotton in 2014. She appeared in ads endorsing Boozman, who won the GOP primary for his seat after fending off challenges from the right.

Sanders has promised to phase out state income tax, though she refrained from giving a timeline for doing so or offering details on how she would pay for lost income.

Sanders beat former radio host Doc Washburn, who mounted a lengthy bid against her in the primary trying to portray her as not conservative enough in part because of her endorsement of Hutchinson and Boozman’s support.

Jones, who won the Democratic nomination in a five-person primary, kicked off his campaign last year with a video that quickly went viral and contrasted Sanders’ rhetoric. During his victory speech, he continued that theme, presenting himself as a more unifying figure than Sanders.

“The Arkansans are clear that we are tired of divisive politics,” Jones said.

Jones is among dozens of black Democrats winning in areas Trump won, hoping to engage more voters. Arkansas has never elected an African American to statewide or federal office.

Prior to running for governor, Jones led the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, a nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs. He dubbed his platform “PB&J,” which he says stands for preschool, broadband and jobs.

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