Sarah Huckabee Sanders kicked off the second stop of her in-person campaign tour for Arkansas governor in Benton Monday (Sept. 6) by defending the campaign she has been running so far, which has focused on marshaling the governor’s office as a “last line of defense” against federal government policies.
Sanders, who was introduced by her father, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, said she is being attacked for “nationalizing the race.”
“And my answer to those people: You bet I am. … We have people in Washington in leadership, the radical left that are not OK just changing policy,” she said. “They want to fundamentally change who we are as a country. And we cannot sit back and do nothing and allow that to happen.”
Sanders did not mention President Joe Biden by name but did speak often about her service for 2 1/2 years as White House press secretary under former President Donald Trump. She said she was “very proud” of her service.
“I’m proud of the fact that we had a president who did exactly what he said he was going to do,” she said. “How refreshing was it to have a politician who actually delivered on the promises that he made, instead of the weak and incompetent leadership that we have in Washington right now?”
She said she was only the third woman and the first mom to be press secretary. When she started working at the White House, her children were ages 5, 3 and 1. She would take her children to work one at a time.
She said she was tired of Arkansas’ low ranking in many areas, but she didn’t address specific issues such as education and tax policy, and she did not mention the COVID-19 pandemic. She did not take questions from reporters afterwards.
Sanders faces Attorney General Leslie Rutledge in the Republican primary. Rutledge’s campaign said her record on the issues is superior to Sanders’ rhetoric.
“For the last seven years, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has actually been leading the fight against the Biden and Obama administrations, not just tweeting about them,” said Rutledge campaign manager Drew Evans. “Each year, Attorney General Rutledge hosts public meetings in all 75 counties to discuss job creation, education, criminal justice, taxes, Second Amendment, pro-life issues, the economy and any other topics brought forward by Arkansans. As a lifelong public servant, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge believes in transparency and accountability of elected officials and those seeking office.”
“The contrast in the two candidates was highlighted at the KATV education town hall when the Attorney General discussed her plans to improve educational opportunities for Arkansans and her opponent declined to participate and instead opted to host a $1,000 per person fundraiser just a few blocks away,” he added.
The Sanders’ event in Benton was billed as a part of her statewide Freedom Tour. The previous day featured a boat parade at Mountain Harbor/Lake Ouachita. She was to appear in Conway, Russellville and Fort Smith on Sept. 7. The Freedom Tour was to continue in Mountain Home and Jonesboro on Sept. 8, and in McGehee, El Dorado, and Arkadelphia on Sept. 9. More events were to occur in Texarkana, Cabot and Searcy on Sept.10, and in Springdale on Sept. 11.
No official attendance was available, but campaign manager Chris Caldwell said more than 1,500 barbecue sandwiches were served in addition to an unknown number of hot dogs.
Four Democrats have announced their candidacies for Arkansas governor: Dr. Anthony Bland, Dr. Chris Jones, James “Rus” Russell and Supha Xayprasith-Mays. Libertarian Rickey Dale Harrington, Jr. has also announced for governor.