SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In a one-on-one interview with ABC7 News, former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended President Trump's response to the California wildfires and his decision to hold an indoor rally in Nevada despite state regulations banning large gatherings.
When asked if it's appropriate for the president to hold a large, indoor rally amid the pandemic, Sanders, who was promoting her new memoir, "Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House," said it's most important President Trump get his message out to the American people in whatever way he can.
"I think it's a smart decision for the President of the United States to speak directly to Americans," Sanders told ABC7 News' Liz Kreutz.
"I know the campaign encouraged people to wear masks at the event, and I think at some point people have to take personal responsibility," she added. "Going to a political rally is not a requirement, that's a choice they make. And you have to make a decision on whether or not you want to take that risk and put yourself into that room."
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak slammed President Trump for the Sunday night rally, where there were few masks and little social distancing, saying on Twitter that Mr. Trump is "taking reckless and selfish actions that are putting countless lives in danger in Nevada."
A new ABC News/Ispos poll shows 65% of Americans disapprove of the president's handling of COVID-19. Still, Sanders said the president is being held to a different standard than the "far left," who have gathered for protests.
Sanders' interview with ABC7 News fell the same morning President Trump visited California for a briefing on the wildfires. Asked why the president and his administration have been reluctant to embrace climate change as a part of the wildfire crisis, Sanders demurred.
"I know the president thinks it's important to take whatever steps necessary to prevent these fires from happening," she said. "I know that was one area that he talked about was cleaning out the forests, and making sure we were doing those steps as well, but I think that's why this briefing and his visit is very important for him to be there today."
During his visit, the president pushed back on the notion of climate change, predicting that California's weather will get "cooler" and telling the state's Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot that, "I don't think science knows, actually."
During the interview, Sanders, who served as White House press secretary under the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019, offered a glowing assessment of the president and described her personal experiences working alongside him.
When asked what the president needs to do in the next two months to win the election, Sanders said he should focus on the economy and law and order.
"Those are areas where this president has been very strong, very outspoken and has a very good track record," she said. "I think he should stay focused on those two messages. I think they're both winning issues for him."
Watch the full interview with Sarah Huckabee Sanders above.