“It’s a challenging position under any president, much more so under President Trump,” said Scott McClellan, a former press secretary to President George W. Bush. “She can help the president advance his agenda and broaden his appeal beyond his base, if — and it’s a big ‘if’ — he will avoid undermining her.”
In a White House of outsize characters, Ms. Sanders, 34, has flown under the radar — Mr. Trump, for all his social media logorrhea, has never posted on Twitter about her by name. If Mr. Spicer’s gaffe-prone briefings mutated into an unhelpful spectacle, Ms. Sanders’s sessions tend to be flat and uneventful, not necessarily a bad thing for a stormy administration.
An evangelical who reads from a book of Christian devotionals before every briefing — and the daughter of the pastor-turned-presidential-candidate Mike Huckabee, the former Republican governor of Arkansas — Ms. Sanders is an unlikely public face for Mr. Trump, a twice-divorced connoisseur of grievance.
“I certainly didn’t approve of a couple of the comments,” Ms. Sanders said of her time on Mr. Trump’s campaign, where she served as an adviser and on-air surrogate. “But at the same time, we were looking for a commander in chief, not a pastor.”
“Oftentimes, people want to make politicians perfect,” she added. “And that’s one of the actual beauties of Christianity, is understanding that no one is.”
She is the first mother to serve as press secretary, and among the youngest to occupy the role. At the lectern, she is folksy, but nimble: She recently deflected questions about “chaos” in the White House by inviting reporters to visit the three preschoolers in her living room. There were laughs, even as Ms. Sanders clearly sidestepped the subject.
She is also unafraid to call out reporters and news coverage that she deems unfair. Asked in the interview if the establishment media is biased against Mr. Trump, she replied, “Absolutely.”
“I’ve never seen the level of hostility that this press corps has to the president,” she said.
Behind the scenes, reporters who cover the West Wing say Ms. Sanders can be friendly and warm — the good cop to Mr. Spicer’s barking sergeant. Last week, several dozen journalists and White House aides, including Kellyanne Conway, toasted Ms. Sanders’s promotion at an all-female “women of the White House” happy hour at a Washington hotel bar.
But like Mr. Spicer,…