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Several former White House press secretaries praised President Donald Trump’s newest spokeswoman, Kayleigh McEnany, following her first press conference on Thursday.
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) May 1, 2020
The woman who replaced Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, also lauded praise on McEnany.
“Proud of my friend Kayleigh for doing a great job in her first briefing. It’s one of the toughest but most rewarding parts of the job and she handled it with confidence and grace. Well done @PressSec!” Sanders — now a Fox News contributor — tweeted.
Proud of my friend Kayleigh for doing a great job in her first briefing. It’s one of the toughest but most rewarding parts of the job and she handled it with confidence and grace. Well done @PressSec!
— Sarah Huckabee Sanders (@SarahHuckabee) May 1, 2020
Also, former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who worked for President George W. Bush, offered his high praise, saying she “nailed it.”
“She was in command of facts, and she spoke knowledgeably and comfortably from that podium. It’s important the WH [White House] have a sharp, good PS [press secretary] and it’s important to the media as well. Well done,” he tweeted.
Congratulations to @PressSec Kayleigh McEnany on her first briefing today. She nailed it. She was in command of facts, and she spoke knowledgeably and comfortably from that podium. It’s important the WH have a sharp, good PS and it’s important to the media as well. Well done.
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) May 1, 2020
Former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, a senior adviser to the 2020 Trump campaign, also praised McEnany.
— Kimberly Guilfoyle (@kimguilfoyle) May 2, 2020
As expected, though, not all former press secretaries agreed.
Joe Lockhart, who was President Bill Clinton’s press secretary during his impeachment, blasted McEnany, calling her performance a “shadow briefing.”
“For anyone who thinks that was a normal White House briefing just watch the last 45 seconds. No other press secretary in history described a White House performance in terms of high ratings. It just tells you how they don’t care about anyone but themselves,” he claimed in a tweet.
“FDR [Franklin D. Roosevelt] never said I’m doing great despite significant setbacks in the war because everyone is listening to my fireside chats,” he added.
“Here’s a question that would have been asked at the shadow briefing today. You’ve cited Dr. [Anthony] Fauci several times today to establish credibility for your pandemic response But you are also encouraging states to reopen against the advice of Fauci. How do you square those two things?” Lockhart continued.
FDR never said I'm doing great despite significant setbacks in the war because everyone is listening to my fireside chats.
— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) May 1, 2020
Here's a question that would have been asked at the shadow briefing today. You've cited Dr. Fauci several times today to establish credibility for your pandemic response But you are also encouraging states to reopen against the advice of Fauci. How do you square those two things
— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) May 1, 2020
Interestingly, in an October 2000 interview with PBS, Lockhart said it was clear to him that his job was to “be political” and to be “an advocate” for his boss, the president.
“I mean, this was the campaign job. There was no question that as the campaign press secretary, your job was to be political and to advocate on behalf of the president politically,” he told PBS’ “Frontline” program.
As for McEnany, she pledged at one point she would “never lie” to anyone, which is what most of the mainstream media focused on. However, she made a number of important announcements as well.
In response to a question about President Trump’s claim that Democrats would “have to give us a lot” in response to more federal aid to states, McEnany noted that the White House is focused, in part, on ending sanctuary cities.
“The President has said, look, I will certainly look to consider helping states who have coronavirus reasons for the financial situation they find themselves in, but he doesn’t want this to be an excuse for decades and decades of bad Democrat governance that have run some of these states into a financial predicament. So he has mentioned that,” she said.
“In terms of the types of things he wants to see in this phase four, don’t want to get ahead of the negotiations, but I do want to emphasize that he has mentioned sanctuary cities,” she added.
She also defended comments made earlier this week by presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who praised the administration’s coronavirus response.
“Look, Jared Kushner has, first of all, done a great job for this Administration, and what I would say to that is that his — when he talked about a success story, he was talking about the story of this Administration which is a story of mobilization for the American people, the greatest mobilization of American industry since World War II,” she said.
McEnany also ripped the “unfair” and “partisan pursuit” of Michael Flynn, the president’s first national security secretary, and noted that “it was a grave miscarriage of justice what happened with Justice Brett Kavanaugh” during his confirmation hearings, having been hit with ultimately discredited claims of previous sexual abuse.
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