On Tuesday night, when Sarah Huckabee Sanders gives her response to the State of the Union, many Republicans will see the fruition of a bold gamble they made in 2016: that they could gain power by aligning themselves with Donald Trump and eventually survive the less savoury aspects of that alliance.
To be honest, it hasn’t always been effective. Many of Trump’s preferred candidates were soundly defeated in swing districts and states. Others in Trump’s inner circle, including Rudy Giuliani, Roger Stone, and Steve Bannon, have also been caught up in scandal.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, though, is one of the wealthiest
Sanders, though, is one of the wealthiest among those who fared well. The former press secretary is now the governor of Arkansas, having beaten over more traditional candidates such as those who paid their political dues. And on Tuesday night, she’ll have the enormous burden of bracketing Vice President Joe Biden for the Republican Party at the year’s most anticipated political speech.
According to former Michigan Republican Party leader Saul Anuzis, “most Republicans definitely didn’t get injured by their identification with Trump.” They may have even gotten something out of it.
According to several sources, giving a response to the State of the Union is a thankless task fraught with political landmines. The most memorable speeches are usually remembered for the wrong reasons, like a speaker spitting on their lips or desperately reaching for a water bottle.
It’s still a huge deal to be asked to provide the answer. Plus, it provides a timely view of the opposing party’s trajectory. Even if many Republicans believe they are ready to move on from Trump, Sanders’s talk will serve as a good reminder that his effect on the GOP is likely to continue for decades.
Trump’s former campaign manager Kevin McCarthy, who Trump once referred to as “my Kevin,” will be in the audience to support Biden. Ryan Zinke (D-MT), Trump’s Interior secretary, and Max Miller (R-OH), a former Trump assistant, will be among the attendees. Ronna McDaniel, who dropped the McDaniel surname to curry favour with President Trump, was just re-elected as chair of the Republican National Committee.
Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and Nikki Haley, all of whom served in Trump’s cabinet, are considering White House bids in 2020. The current frontrunner for the Republican presidential candidature, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, may credit Trump for his success. If he hadn’t ingratiated himself to Trump in the 2018 governor contest, he’d probably be a forgotten ex-congressman.
And it’s possible Sanders can learn from DeSantis’s example. Before DeSantis drew Trump’s attention with his regular Fox News attacks defending the president, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam had made his way through GOP circles and seemed set to secure the party’s selection.
Not a single one of the Republican lawmakers who have benefited from Trump’s popularity has been without their own unique selling factors. As the daughter of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Sanders was able to capitalise on her family name’s recognition among conservatives in her native state. Having her react to Biden on Tuesday might help Republicans win back the support of suburban women who abandoned the party during the Trump administration. Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona will respond in Spanish to reach out to the Latino community, with whom Trump has had some limited success throughout his presidency.
Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York whose own MAGA conversion enhanced her status in Congress, praised the two members’ appearances on Twitter, writing that the GOP “embodies the American ideal.”
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