Sarah Huckabee Sanders endorses Trump for president

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday endorsed her former boss Donald Trump for president.

Sanders will join the 2024 Republican front-runner at his rally in Hialeah, Florida, on Wednesday as Trump skips the third GOP presidential primary debate, which is being held the same night in Miami.

“It’s not a question between right versus left anymore. It’s normal versus crazy, and President Biden and the left are doubling down on crazy. The time has come to return to the normal policies of the Trump era which created a safer, stronger, and more prosperous America, and that’s why I am proud to endorse Donald Trump for President,” Sanders said in a statement to CNN.

The endorsement is not entirely surprising, as Sanders served as Trump’s White House press secretary and has been a staunch ally of the former president since he left office. But Sanders had declined to weigh in on the 2024 race until this point, even after Trump called her eight months ago asking for her endorsement, a source familiar with the call told CNN in March. Trump denied asking for Sanders’ endorsement in a Truth Social post at the time.

Trump, for his part, was an early endorser of Sanders’ bid for governor after publicly encouraging her to run.

“We had great success in the White House and it’s an honor to have Sarah’s endorsement. I look forward to having her at the big rally in Hialeah this Wednesday,” Trump said in a statement to CNN on Monday.

A source familiar with the plans had told CNN earlier Monday that Sanders was expected to endorse Trump at his Florida rally on Wednesday. NBC News first reported on the expected endorsement.

Sanders’ support for Trump comes as Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds endorsed Trump’s GOP 2024 rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, on Monday. The popular Iowa Republican governor had initially indicated she would stay neutral in the GOP presidential primary – a decision she was attacked for by Trump. The Iowa governor’s endorsement of DeSantis could give him a much-needed boost in the state that holds the first primary nominating contest.

Sanders left her role as White House press secretary in 2019, capping what was a tumultuous tenure as Trump’s chief spokeswoman in which she repeatedly made false or misleading claims from the podium.

“I couldn’t be prouder to have the opportunity to serve my country and particularly to work for this president,” Sanders said at the time of her departure. “I’ve loved every minute – even the hard minutes.”

As CNN previously reported, the Republican National Committee was caught off guard when Trump’s campaign announced that it would hold a counterprogramming event the same night as the debate, just down the road from the Miami arena where other Republican candidates would be facing off. Trump has not attended any of the debates, citing his commanding lead in the polls.

This headline and story have been updated with additional details.

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