Experiencing the atmosphere of the West Wing is an unforgettable experience for anyone. But it’s an everyday experience for White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Screen capture from C-Span
As the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders took an interest in government and politics from an early age. Her extreme interest in politics “doesn’t make me sound like a very fun 7-year-old,” she joked in an afternoon interview.
Sanders, named as White House press secretary in July 2017, spoke with Baptist Press (BP) about her time in the role so far and how her Christian faith intersects with her work. The energy and zeal Sanders brought to the interview made clear her passion for her work in the Donald Trump administration.
“I think the president is doing great, and I think that it is obvious in the accomplishments he’s had in the first nine months in office,” Sanders said in the late-October interview.
“We’ve got a strong economy, we’ve got ISIS on the run and we have a Supreme Court justice in Neil Gorsuch that I think is going to leave an incredible legacy and will be one of the defining moments of the president’s tenure. I think we have had an incredibly successful nine months,” she said, stating her belief that “we’re going to get a lot more done.”
Asked what advice her father, a former Southern Baptist pastor, gave her when she was named as White House press secretary, Sanders said it was the same advice he has given her throughout her life.
“He’s always told me to be honest and be myself,” Sanders said. “I think that is something that applies regardless of whether you are a high school student or whether you’re in a professional career, and I think it’s good advice and something you can take with you no matter what.”
Photo by Brandon Pickett
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a working mom as evidenced by a bulletin board with artwork and notes from her three young children.
Although Sanders is the third woman to hold the title of White House press secretary, she is the first who is also a mom. She has three children, the oldest having started kindergarten this year. How does she juggle it all?
“I think a big part of it is that I have a great partner – my husband [Bryan] is incredibly patient and supportive, not just of me professionally but personally,” Sanders said. “So that makes a huge difference. I certainly would not have been able to do any of this without him and, frankly, wouldn’t want to.
“I think with any parent, you have a responsibility to try and be a good role model for your kids. I try to do that every day, and I hope that my kids, particularly my daughter, can say, ‘Look, in this world, I can do anything I want to do,’ and I hope she sees that and certainly sees that you can be a mom and have a professional career as well if you want to.”
Sanders said her faith is an integral part of her life and something she wants to represent despite being in a political position.
“A lot of times people say you need to separate faith and work, and my answer is that you can’t. Because if you are a deep-rooted Christian, your faith is what defines you, and I think that’s something that I try to take with me in everything I do and certainly don’t separate that when I go to work every day.”
Sanders has had to rely on her faith, especially through difficult circumstances and various tragedies amid the Trump presidency, like last summer’s hurricanes and the Las Vegas shooting, which took place in October, a couple months after she began in her role.
“I think your faith can help you get through the good and the bad days,” Sanders said. “Faith isn’t something that you want to lean on just when it is a difficult situation. … [It’s] something that I try and I fail like everybody else every single day, but I think trying to do as much as you can to really connect and to have a real faith is important, and I try to do that. Again, some days are sure better than others and certainly we all fall short, but I try to be the strongest Christian that I can every day.”
Even while answering interview questions, Sanders’ gaze never strays too far from the multiple television screens in her West Wing office locked on every news network. But despite the high level of stress she faces, Sanders has a sense of gratitude for the job she now fills and the responsibility that comes with it.
“I’ve said several times before that if we ever come into the building and do not have a sense of reverence and respect, we have been here too long and it’s time for us to go,” Sanders said. “I hope that I never get to that place, and I never forget what a privilege it is to work here in the White House and work for President Trump.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brandon Pickett is associate executive director of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia state convention; Maina Mwaura is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.)