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Trump turning to spokeswoman at crucial times

By CATHERINE LUCEY AND KEN THOMAS Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Faced with aggressive on-air questioning about the president's wiretapping claims, Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn't flinch, she went folksy.

Speaking to George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America," she pulled out a version of an old line from President Lyndon Johnson: "If the president walked across the Potomac, the media would be reporting that he could not swim."

The 34-year-old spokeswoman for President Donald Trump was schooled in hardscrabble politics -- and down-home rhetoric -- from a young age by her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Her way with a zinger -- and her unshakable loyalty to an often unpredictable boss -- are big reasons why the deputy press secretary is a rising star in Trump's orbit.

In recent weeks, Sanders has taken on a notably more prominent role in selling Trump's agenda, including on television and at White House press briefings.

As White House press secretary Sean Spicer's public profile has fluctuated in recent weeks amid criticism of his performance, Sanders has increasingly become a chief defender of Trump in some of his toughest moments.

Sanders' rise has fueled speculation that she's becoming the president's favored articulator, a notion she disputes. "It's hard for any one person to maintain a schedule of being the singular face all day every day," she said. She argued that more than one press aide spoke for President Barack Obama.

"When Eric Schultz went on TV did anybody say Josh Earnest is getting fired?" Sanders asked. "Was that story ever written?"

Spicer echoed that message: "My goal is to use other key folks in the administration and the White House to do the shows."

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