Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced a run for governor of Arkansas on Monday, calling the position “the last line of defense” against the “radical left” in Washington.
“As governor, I will defend your right to be free of socialism and tyranny, your Second Amendment right to keep your family safe and your freedom of speech and religious liberty,” Sanders said in a video announcing her candidacy. “Our state needs a leader with the courage to do what’s right, not what’s politically correct or convenient.”
Sanders has toyed with launching a campaign since leaving her White House post in 2019 and has been quietly planning for the bid over the last year. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson cannot seek re-election in 2022 because of term limits.
Sanders, whose father, Mike Huckabee, was governor from 1996 to 2007, took over as press secretary from Sean Spicer, who resigned in 2017. A loyal ally of former President Donald Trump, she had a contentious relationship with the White House press corps and all but did away with official briefings during her 2½-year tenure.
When Trump announced that Sanders would be leaving her position in June 2019, she hadn’t held a briefing in 94 days.
Sanders had come under fire weeks before, when the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election by special counsel Robert Mueller revealed that she had made up an assertion about the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
One day after Comey’s firing in 2017, Sanders said during a briefing that “countless” FBI agents had told the White House that they had lost confidence in Comey. But according to Mueller’s report, she told federal investigators that she had no evidence to back up the claim.
Sanders described the false assertion as a “slip of the tongue.”
Monica Alba is a White House correspondent for NBC News.
Hallie Jackson is senior Washington correspondent for NBC News.
Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News based in California.