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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

The southern belle with a tough streak takes over as Trump's press chief

That Sarah Huckabee Sanders has survived the turbulence in the White House is testament to her dry wit, firm hand with reporters and unstinting loyalty to an unpredictable boss

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary-designate, at a press briefing after the sudden resignation of her boss, press secretary Sean Spicer, on July 21, 2017.  Zach Gibson/Bloomberg
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary-designate, at a press briefing after the sudden resignation of her boss, press secretary Sean Spicer, on July 21, 2017. Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

She is one of the more conventional figures in this unconventional White House.

The daughter of Mike Huckabee, governor of Arkansas and once a presidential hopeful himself, Sarah Huckabee Sanders rose through a testing ground of numerous Republican campaigns.

She was born into the political life, spending part of her teens growing up in the governor’s mansion in Little Rock and helping her father win re-election.

After attending Ouachita Baptist University, a private liberal arts school in southwest Arkansas, she worked on president George W Bush’s 2004 campaign and in several Senate races.

Now 34, she is taking on what must be the most difficult job in Washington.

Read more: The slick charmer now in charge of getting Donald Trump's message out

She has frequently deputised for press secretary Sean Spicer, deploying her Southern charm as well as the occasional arched eyebrow and sarcastic put-down in the briefing room

In an interview earlier this year with Fox News, her father said the approach came from growing up with two older brothers.

“She’s got a very sweet heart, but she’s tough, and she can handle herself. She’s had to take all kinds of gruff from her brothers, so she’s pretty fearless,” he said.

Mr Huckabee himself is known for a pithy turn of phrase, a trait he seems to have passed on to his daughter.

She laid out her approach to her job at the briefing room podium after being introduced by Anthony Scaramucci.

“It’s something I will cherish, and will hope to do my very best every single day,” she said. “And be as open, honest and transparent with you all as humanly possible.”