Republican Arkansas Governor and former White House Press Sec. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will endorse her past boss Donald Trump at a rally Wednesday night, her office confirmed.
Sanders will join Trump on stage at his gathering near Miami the same evening the third Republican presidential debate takes place just down the road, as per NBC News. Sanders’ endorsement comes as Trump leads the GOP field in polls and tops President Joe Biden in national polling averages.
“It’s no longer a question of right versus left now,” Sanders stated in an announcement. “It’s normal versus insane, and President Biden and liberals are doubling down on crazy. Now is the time to return to the normal policies of the Donald Trump era which created a more secure, stronger, and prosperous America, and that’s why I’m honored to endorse Donald Trump for President.”
Sanders’ statement reflected her scathing response to Biden’s latest State of the Union Address, where she contrasted the Republicans’ and Democrats’ clashing visions for America’s future.
The former press secretary for Trump had reportedly irritated the Trump campaign by postponing her endorsement this long with Trump facing numerous Republican challengers in the wide open GOP primary. Trump called Sanders’ endorsement an “honor” in response.
With Sanders’ backing, Trump has now gained support from five Republican governors, nearly 80 House Republicans and 11 GOP senators – significant establishment endorsements.
Sanders’ Trump endorsement follows Republican opponent Florida Governor Ron DeSantis being endorsed by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds Monday, his biggest endorsement so far. Reynolds had pledged to remain neutral before Iowa’s January 2024 caucuses, angering Trump.
Trump reportedly upset the Republican National Committee by scheduling his Miami rally the same night and city as the third Republican debate. Trump has skipped participating in the debates entirely, arguing his substantial polling lead makes them essentially meaningless at this stage.
The dueling endorsements showcase the fierce intraparty jockeying underway as the 2024 GOP nomination fight comes into focus. Trump maintains a dominant position based on name recognition and loyal supporters. But DeSantis has gained ground as a potential alternative.
Sanders’ backing reaffirms Trump’s strong standing with segments of the Republican base, given her high profile as a former administration official. But defections like Reynolds also demonstrate Trump faces growing competition.
The endorsements underscore the dividing lines emerging as Republicans decide whether to stick with the bombastic former president or consider new standard bearers like DeSantis. With growing factions, the road to the 2024 nomination seems poised to be quite turbulent.
Sanders described the choice facing voters as “normal versus insane.” But Republicans may debate which path forward is sanest.