LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as former President Donald Trump’s press secretary, on Monday endorsed his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
Sanders, who took office in January as Arkansas governor after a campaign where she touted her endorsement from the former president, planned to join Trump at a rally in Florida on Wednesday, Trump said in a statement.
“It’s not a question between right versus left anymore. It’s normal versus crazy, and President Biden and the left are doubling down on crazy,” Sanders said in a statement. “The time has come to return to the normal policies of the Trump era which created a safer, stronger, and more prosperous America, and that’s why I am proud to endorse Donald Trump for President.”
NBC first reported Sanders’ endorsement of the former president. The two will appear together in Florida on Wednesday, the same day Trump’s rivals for the nomination will face off in the third GOP presidential debate.
“We had great success in the White House and it’s an honor to have Sarah’s endorsement,” Trump said. “I look forward to having her at the big rally in Hialeah this Wednesday.”
Despite being one of Trump’s closest aides and fiercest defenders during his time in the White House, Sanders had avoided backing him or anyone else in the crowded Republican presidential race over the past several months.
The GOP field includes Sanders’ predecessor, former Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has been one of the few Republican candidates willing to directly take on Trump. He had called on the former president to drop out of the race after Trump was indicted in March by a grand jury in New York. Sanders had not been expected to back Hutchinson’s bid for the GOP nomination.
Trump publicly encouraged Sanders to run for governor when she left the White House in 2019 to return to Arkansas. As a candidates and after taking office, Sanders adopted many of his targets, including critical race theory and the media.
Sanders in February delivered the Republican rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, leaning heavily into culture wars issues and accusing Biden of pursuing “woke fantasies.” Sanders has signed into law several measures cheered by conservatives in the state, including an education overhaul that created a new school voucher program.
But Sanders has also faced questions over the past several weeks about a $19,000 lectern purchased for her office that’s prompted an audit and claims her office illegally altered public records.