CLEVELAND -- Half a year after former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee dropped out of the 2016 presidential race, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is still on the campaign trail, laboring for the man who defeated her famous father.
Donald Trump named Sanders as a senior political adviser in February, and she's been a prominent surrogate for the New York businessman ever since.
This week, she was in Cleveland, defending the Republican presidential nominee on CNN and elsewhere, deflecting charges of plagiarism and denouncing the Democrats.
While her father posed for pictures with enthusiastic fans Tuesday evening, Sanders said she's glad to be working for her party's standard-bearer.
"It's been a really neat and incredible experience," she said.
This isn't what she envisioned when her father launched his presidential bid. As his campaign manager, she was present from the announcement speech in Hope to the concession speech in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Since then, she's worked for Trump, joining him on the campaign trail in Northwest Arkansas in February and huddling with him last month when he met with evangelical leaders in New York City.
In between, she has defended the campaign repeatedly on national news programs, frequently appearing via satellite from Little Rock.
"The whole process has been a little surreal, but presidential politics is always going to be a little bit chaotic," she said. "The best part is no two days are alike. You have a lot of different challenges and adventures, and it's a lot of fun."
Once the Republican National Convention is over, Sanders said, she'll shift her attention to the fall campaign.
Asked what she'll be doing between now and November, Sanders said, "Beating Hillary."
She was referring to Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee who also is a former first lady from Arkansas and of the White House.
Although Trump's headquarters are in New York, Sanders said she'll continue to be based in central Arkansas.
"I try to travel a few days a month, but with three little kids at home, I try to do as much from home as possible," she said.
Sanders' husband, GOP campaign consultant Bryan Sanders, said he's proud of his wife's role.
"It's, I think, a really historic moment for our country to have somebody who's a total outsider not only win the Republican nomination but win it in a total landslide. [It's] probably the biggest political upset any of us are going to see in our lifetime, and Sarah being a small part of that is great," he said.
U.S. Sen. John Boozman said selecting Sanders was a smart move by Trump.
"She is a hard worker and nobody understands politics better than she. She just grew up in it and really just does a tremendous job," the Republican from Rogers said.
Huckabee said his daughter has been paying attention to political consultants since she was in grade school.
"When she was 7 years old and most kids were jumping rope, she was sitting around the kitchen table listening to Dick Morris do cross tabs of polls. So she has grown up with [politics] in a way most people can't imagine."
The former governor's wife, Janet, gives him some of the credit for her daughter's success: "She ... learned, I think, from the master, her dad, so she's done very well."
A Section on 07/23/2016
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