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Heslam: Sean Spicer doing exactly what he needs to according to GOP leaders

April 13, 2017 GMT

What’s it going to take for Sean Spicer to lose his job?

As White House press secretary, Spicer has more than nine lives. He’s made headlines — and not in a good way — since he first stepped into the spotlight in January, from arguing about the size of the inauguration crowd to denying the Muslim ban to insulting a female reporter.

And if his latest outrageous, tone-deaf Hitler comments — that Hitler never gassed his own people, a gaffe uttered on Passover no less! — haven’t earned him a pink slip, it’s hard to imagine what will.

So why keep him around?

Well, some leading Republicans who’ve been there say despite the rough edges, Spicer so far is largely doing what he is supposed to do.

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Andy Card, the chief of staff for President George W. Bush, acknowledges that Spicer has a tough job in part because of Trump’s “spontaneity.”

“He’s struggled in the job and credibility is very, very important,” Card said. “I want him to recognize that.”

Card said any decision on Spicer is between him and his boss.

“If he has the confidence of the president, that’s what counts the most. If he feels he should step down, then that should be a decision made by him. Believe me, I know how difficult the responsibilities are at the White House. It doesn’t do a lot of good for outsiders to speculate whether they have earned the confidence of the president.”

That said, Card called Spicer’s Hitler remarks “completely inappropriate” and said he should have retracted them immediately, rather than letting the controversy drag while he fumbled a clarification, then finally apologized.

Card’s advice for Spicer?

“Give your best every day, say thank you for yesterday and don’t try to predict tomorrow,” Card said. “Have the courage to acknowledge that you’re not serving the president well if you haven’t served him well.”

Rob Gray, who served as press secretary for former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, said Trump could argue that Spicer is useful because he’s absorbing a lot of the “blows and criticism” that Trump might otherwise take.

“Part of the role of a press secretary is to be a foil and to look stupid so that the boss doesn’t look stupid,” Gray said.

Spicer, Gray added, has made his share of gaffes but he gets a lot of criticism because the media doesn’t like Trump.

“Trump could get the most able-practiced press secretary anywhere, the new Marlin Fitzwater, and that person is still going to be in for a hard time and a lot of criticism because their boss is Donald Trump,” Gray said.

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Fitzwater was press secretary for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the only press secretary to serve two presidents.

It’s rare that a press secretary doesn’t become controversial, being in the crosshairs of the press every day on his boss’ behalf.

Spicer may have set a new bar on press secretary controversy, but he’s representing a president unlike any we’ve seen before. It’s hard to argue that he isn’t by and large representing his president’s often erratic utterances, especially when the one person — President Trump — whose job evaluation matters most doesn’t seem to have a problem with his performance.