WASHINGTON, D.C. (WPRI) – After a month as White House press secretary, Barrington native Sean Spicer is getting used to the long hours the job requires – and insists he isn’t worried about his job security.
Formerly a top official at the Republican National Committee, Spicer was named to the high-profile position shortly after President Trump was elected. Last week, in an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News inside his West Wing office, Spicer said that while the job is stressful, “it’s also a dream come true.”
“I love my job,” he declared.
During the conversation, Spicer discussed his journey from the East Bay to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, as well as his family, the daily grind of his job, being lampooned on national TV – and, of course, his new boss.
“He’s very decisive,” Spicer said of Trump. “He likes to get input. He’s very welcoming of ideas. But when he makes a decision, he goes out and makes it known and then expects his staff to execute that idea. He’s a very reassuring, supportive employer. There’s a reason that people who worked for him in business, you go back sometimes to 20 and in some cases 30 years. He inspires loyalty.”
Spicer added: “This is a guy who walked away from a lot to do this job because he wanted to give back and he felt blessed for how much he has succeeded and he felt as though there’s a calling and an opportunity to help the country.”
Spicer’s first month as press secretary saw several contentious and even combative interactions with the news media. It’s also been marred by controversy, with disputes over assertions made by administration officials. All that – along with a steady stream of leaks from inside the White House – have already fanned speculation about whether Spicer’s job is in jeopardy.
Spicer initially laughed when asked if he was worried about losing his job. “The president continues to give me positive feedback,” he said. “He’ll tell you when you’re wrong, but he also tells you when you’re doing really well. And that happens on a very regular basis.”
“You know, he’s been very complimentary of the job that I’ve done and I appreciate that,” Spicer continued. “But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to serve him and to make sure that I do the best job I can on behalf of him, the administration, and this country. And I think, I feel very good about where I am in the administration, and his support.”
Still, it’s easy to see how the position of press secretary could wear someone out.
“As you’ve seen, the president is an early riser and he goes to bed very late,” Spicer noted – so Trump’s staff does the same.
“You start very early and you go very late. I left just after midnight last night, and we were back here at 6-something this morning,” he said. “When you’re doing something exciting and that you’re passionate about, it makes it a lot easier,” he added.
A big reason for Spicer’s national prominence is the over-the-top portrayal of him on “Saturday Night Live” by actress Melissa McCarthy. Spicer let out a loud laugh when the subject was brought up. Asked if he ever thought he’d be fodder for the show, he answered, “Definitely not,” followed by another chuckle. “There’s a lot of firsts in this last couple of months, and that is definitely one of them.”
Spicer said he doesn’t usually tune into the show, though he’s seen clips of McCarthy’s portrayal. “On a Saturday night, I’m usually in bed as soon as I can be after we put the kids down,” he said. “That’s my one night that I actually can get a decent night’s sleep before waking up and heading off to church.”
Despite the job’s intense scrutiny and demands, Spicer said he’s enjoying it.
“When you’re doing what you do at this level, it’s tough, there’s no question about it. But I’m enjoying this,” he said. “This has been a really amazing opportunity. There’s (sic) so many things that I’ve been able to do and also share.”
“And that’s what’s the really unique part about this job is it’s not just being able to do it, it’s bringing folks from Rhode Island and being able to have them come down and see the White House maybe in a way that they wouldn’t if there was somebody else here,” he continued. “It’s bringing your family and friends and getting them to experience part of this.”
Spicer is a father of two young children and said his wife has been “unbelievably supportive” as he tries to balance his job with his family obligations. He also said his desire to build a better future for his children is a reason for his faith in President Trump’s strategy.
“I mean if you think about what the President’s main agenda is, it’s to bring back jobs, fight and speak for the middle class, the forgotten Americans who this town has overlooked and not really heard their voices for so often enacted policies and regulations that maybe were focused on political interests instead of the interests of the American people,” Spicer said. “And that’s what the president has done.”
“I know that we can have policy disagreements, but I also know that it’s in his heart, and what his vision is,” he said.
Unfortunately, there’s one person who never got to see Spicer at the podium in the White House briefing room. His father, Michael, died in December after a long battle with cancer, just weeks before his appointment was made official. The subject still stirs raw emotion in Spicer.
“He knew this was hopefully imminent,” Spicer said of his father. “It was just a few days after he passed that this happened. And you always want to call him. But I know he’s looking down very proud.”
Spicer said he gets back to Rhode Island to see his mother as often as he can, but due to the nature of his job, the return trips don’t happen as often as he’d like.
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