“Completely unexpected,” “Stunning,” “Out of the blue,” were just some of the expressions used by fellow White House correspondents following the President’s tweet late Thursday afternoon that Sarah Sanders would soon be stepping down as White House press secretary.
Moments after the surprise news set in, speculation on a successor began to take off in the White House Briefing Room — which has been unused since Sanders’ last briefing nearly three months ago (March 12).
Early betting among White House correspondents was on Hogan Gidley, Sanders’ principal deputy press secretary and fellow Arkansas native. Gidley did media work for Sanders’ father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and ran his political action committee HucKPAC.
Gidley has also worked on the campaigns of former Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole, N.C., and David Beasley, S.C., and was top spokesman for Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign.
By most accounts, Trump himself has an excellent relationship with Gidley.
There was also talk of the President reaching out to a high-powered media figure such as Laura Ingraham of Fox News or former State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert (who reportedly wanted Sanders’ job last year when speculation about her departure was ripe).
David Martosko, U.S. political editor of the DailyMail.com and former executive editor of the Daily Caller, has also been mentioned. Martosko was reportedly sounded out for the job in 2017 after the exodus of Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer.
But few in the White House press corps believe that anyone in a major media job would relinquish it to work in the White House — where the press secretary’s exposure and briefing have been recently limited.
Sources close to Sanders told Newsmax that she enjoyed the daily spirited and frequently contentious give-and-take with reporters at the White House and was disappointed when they were suspended in March.
Trump himself reportedly ordered the end of the daily briefings and considered his own question-and-answer time outside the Marine One helicopter before departing the White House as his “press conference.”
In announcing Sanders’ departure at the end of the month, the President praised her as “a very special person with extraordinary talents” and voiced his hope she would run for her father’s old job as governor of Arkansas.
Sanders will be moving back to the Razorback State at the end of the month, Trump also tweeted.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.