Sarah Huckabee Sanders wants to be governor of Arkansas.
The former press secretary for President Donald Trump – and mother of three – explained her reasons as guest speaker at the Greene County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner at the Paragould Community Center held Monday.
“I want to make sure the path for my kids, and the path for every kid is clear,” she said, “so they can go forward full speed towards whatever they want.”
Sanders, daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, noted, however, that there were those in the nation’s capital that sought to “rip that path up” so it no longer exists. “And I refuse to sit back and do nothing while they do,” she said.
For that reason, Sanders said, she rejected criticism that she was nationalizing the Arkansas gubernatorial race. “I say: ‘you bet I am,’” she said. “We have a moral obligation to stand up and fight back for our kids.”
Sanders also said a governor has to be tough to fight against the plans and efforts of the radical Left and the bad ideas coming out of Washington. And she reminded the nearly 400 attendees of her two and a-half years as White House press secretary as evidence of her toughness.
Just as importantly, Sanders said, a governor needs heart and vision, as well as the values that will best serve the state, “And I know that I can be the leader that our state needs,” she said, “at a time that we need it most.”
In spite of nationalizing the governor’s race, Sanders said that she understands Arkansas is much better than statistics would suggest. “Frankly, I am sick and tired of Arkansas being at the bottom,” she said. “I’m tired of being 46th-47th-48th,” she said, “when I know we have the ability and the capacity to be first.”
Sanders said that the state needs somebody who understands that the solution to problems does not lie in government. “Greatness doesn’t lie in government,” she said, “but in God and in our people. And I’m always willing to fight for what’s important.”
Sanders said one of the greatest experiences of being press secretary was that she’d traveled with the president to nearly 30 countries. “And in every single country I visited,” she said, “I was reminded what an incredible blessing it is to be able to call myself an American. We are the greatest country in the world because we are the free-est country in the world.”
Sanders also took the opportunity to praise America’s military by telling a story of the Christmas 2018 visit to a military base in western Iraq. “We left Washington in total secrecy and total darkness,” she said, “and landed 15 hours later in total darkness.”
Sanders said a light shone in what proved to be a dining hall packed with American service personnel, who’d gathered (as they understood it) for a visit by high-ranking military officers. “But they had absolutely no idea that the president and the First Lady were coming to visit,” she said. “And then they did a scene I hope I never forget. In one voice, from every demographic, from every background, in total unison [they started chanting] USA-USA-USA!”
Sanders hailed the troops as representing the very best of America. “One of the soldiers rose from the back,” she continued, “and said: ‘Mr. President, I re-enlisted because of you. And the president replied: ‘I’m here because of you!’”
Sanders said the same soldier came up to her told told her he thought she had a tough job. “‘I take questions,’” she said she’d responded. “‘You take bombs and bullets.”
She concluded by telling the gathering that she would never forget those who’d helped her get where she is and where she aspires to be. “And I’ll never forget the decisions I make as governor will affect my children,” she said.
In addition to Sanders, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has declared her candidacy for governor on the Republican ticket. Three Democrats, Supha Xayprasith-Mays, Chris Jones and James Russell; Independent William E “Bill Gates and Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington, have also declared their candidacies. Gov. Asa Hutchinson is term-limited out.