Sarah Huckabee Sanders to give Republican State of the Union response

  • In Politics
  • 2023-02-02 19:11:16Z
  • By The Guardian
Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images  

The White House press secretary turned Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders will give the Republican response to Joe Biden's State of the Union address next week.

Announcing the move on Thursday, the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, called Huckabee Sanders "a servant-leader of true determination and conviction", adding about his fellow Republican: "I'm thrilled Sarah will share her extraordinary story and bold vision for a better America on Tuesday."

Huckabee Sanders, now 40, was the second of Donald Trump's four press secretaries in an administration under which relations between the press and the White House dwindled to new lows.

Sanders memorably admitted lying to reporters about internal opposition to the FBI director, James Comey, during the investigation of Russian election interference in 2016 and links between the former president and Moscow.

She told the New York Times it "bothers me" to be called a liar, "because one of the few things you have are your integrity and reputation".

"There's a difference between misspeaking or not knowing something than maliciously lying," she added.

Huckabee Sanders was elected in Arkansas last November, following her father, Mike Huckabee, into the governor's mansion. She began her time in power with a flurry of executive orders on culture war subjects.

One banned use in state documents of the word "Latinx", which one proponent has defined as "a gender-neutral term to describe US residents of Latin American descent".

Another order banned the teaching of critical race theory in public schools. Critical race theory is an academic discipline that examines the ways in which racism operates in US laws and society. It is rarely taught below college level but Republicans have enthusiastically and successfully used it as a wedge electoral issue.

In her own statement on Thursday, Huckabee Sanders said she was "grateful for this opportunity to address the nation and contrast the GOP's optimistic vision for the future against the failures of President Biden and the Democrats.

"We are ready to begin a new chapter in the story of America - to be written by a new generation of leaders ready to defend our freedom against the radical left and expand access to quality education, jobs, and opportunity for all."

Some observers think Huckabee Sanders may in the future follow her father - and the Democratic former Arkansas governor Bill Clinton - and run for president.

Huckabee, an evangelical Christian, bass guitarist and pitchman for questionable health products, did so in 2008 and 2016. In his first run he won the Iowa caucuses as part of an unexpectedly strong showing before losing to John McCain. In 2016 he was one of many candidates blown out of the water by Trump.

Clinton was president for two terms beginning in 1993.

Republicans also announced on Thursday that a second rebuttal to Biden's speech will be given by the Arizona congressman Juan Ciscomani, who will speak in Spanish.


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