One has to wonder exactly when Sarah Huckabee Sanders cut this campaign-launch ad. It goes all in on framing Huckabee Sanders as the heir to the Donald Trump movement, at least in Arkansas, against the radical left’s violence, as well as the sovereignty of states as the “last line of defense” against them. That might have sounded like a great argument as recently as, oh, January 5th.
That’s not the only odd choice in messaging from the launch of Huckabee Sanders’ gubernatorial campaign, either:
Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders formally announced on Monday that she will run for governor of Arkansas.
In a video message posted to her campaign website, Sanders invoked threats made against her life during her time in the Trump administration in an appeal to voters in the deeply red state.
“To remain free, we must have law and order and resolve our differences peacefully,” Sanders said. “The radical left’s solution is to impose government control and censorship from the top down.”
Sanders, a Republican whose father was governor of the state, told Arkansans their governor is a “last line of defense” with Democrats taking control of the White House and Senate in recent elections.
What’s striking from this is the way Huckabee Sanders wraps her arms more around Trump than her own father. Mike Huckabee is a popular former governor, also a strong supporter of Trump, but someone whose charm and political reach might have made for a better — and less fraught — political touchstone. Instead, Huckabee Sanders spends the first 60 seconds of a too-long 7:45 video talking about Trump rather than her dad or herself, except for her role as nothing more than a question-taker in Trump’s White House. Mike Huckabee gets only a few seconds of screen time, a strange choice especially after the events of the past few weeks.
The message might not be quite as clear either. It’s true that governors should be the “last line of defense” against encroachment from Washington, but Republicans just spent the last couple of months encroaching all over states’ sovereignty to overturn the 2020 election on Trump’s behalf. Would Huckabee Sanders have performed that “last line of defense” like Brian Kemp and Doug Ducey did? Or would she have allowed Congress to usurp her state’s sovereignty? The law-and-order message might not play the same as it did before Trump’s rally crashed into the Capitol building either, and Huckabee Sanders’ support for law enforcement sounds a bit sour after the murder of a police officer and the wounding of dozens more in the riot.
I’d guess that this ad got cut several weeks ago. If so, it should have been revisited rather than released.
At any rate, Huckabee Sanders’ campaign will provide an interesting test to see how resilient Trumpism will be in the GOP after his loss and the fallout from the last two-plus months. Will she stick with those themes in the future, or will Huckabee Sanders decide to feature her father a lot more than Trump? This Trump-to-Huckabee ratio might end up being a bellwether of sorts, and it makes the Arkansas gubernatorial race very interesting to watch.