A passionate group of Villagers came from throughout the community Thursday afternoon to rub elbows and chat with President Trump’s former spokesman.
Sean Spicer, who served as Trump’s press secretary for the first six months of his presidency, was at Barnes & Noble in Lake Sumter Landing signing copies of his new book, “The Briefing: Politics, the Press, and the President.” The 46-year-old is on record as saying he wrote the book to “set the record straight” about the 2016 election and his tumultuous time serving in Trump’s administration.
Spicer said the opportunity to meet so many area residents and pose for photographs with them meant a great deal to him.
“It’s pretty humbling,” he said. “It’s really special to know that someone took time out of their day to come talk to you.”
Spicer, who started his day Thursday in Chicago and was going to end it in Palm Beach, said it also was enjoyable to speak with so many people who were passionate about politics.
“The people that come, they’ve watched the briefings and they want to hear the story,” said Spicer, who has been on a 15-day book tour that’s taken him to places like Detroit; Toledo, Ohio; San Antonio; Houston; San Francisco; Sacramento and Los Angeles. “It means a lot to me because they were really invested in it while it was happening.”
As for his six months in the Trump administration, Spicer said it ran the gamut.
“It was chaotic at times. It was energetic and exciting,” he said. “There was a sort of a range of emotions and activity.”
Spicer was such a polarizing figure during his time in the Trump administration that NBC’s hit television show “Saturday Night Live” even designed a series of skits with actress Melissa McCarthy portraying him as an extremely angry press secretary.
“You get a kick out of it and I laughed,” Spicer said with a smile. “But then you realize what’s going on. It was pretty surreal to sit there and watch yourself being parodied on a show that you grew up watching.”
For those in the crowd who saw those skits and the many press briefings Spicer held, the consensus was that it was an honor to meet him, not only for his time in the Trump administration but also for his 19 years in the Navy Reserve, where he currently serves as a public affairs officer.
“Sean got me interested in press conferences and I admire the way he handled himself,” said Gene Molloy, who along with wife Susan lives in the Village of Pine Hills.
“It was pretty cool,” added Susan, an author who writes poetry and short fiction pieces. “I also thanked him for his service. We appreciate that, too.”
Peter and Karen Pizzarello, of the Village of Caroline, were the first ones in line to see Spicer. Both agreed that meeting him was a special moment they won’t soon forget.
“Between the media and Trump, being in the middle is not easy,” Peter said. “But he handled that about as best as he could. It was nice to tell him that we appreciated the work that he did and we know what a difficult spot that job was.”
“He had such a hard job to do and not very many people appreciated it,” she said.
For Villager Ruth Baumgardner, a “Fox News junkie,” the opportunity to meet Spicer is one she’s been looking forward to for a long time.
“It’s really neat to meet someone in person who has a job like that because they have a lot of information that we can learn from,” said the Village of Pine Ridge resident. “But I think he had to get out to keep his sanity. He’s smiling now. He didn’t smile a lot then.”
Meanwhile, sisters Betty Spicer Reed, of Harbor Hills, and Peg Spicer Hutson, of Spruce Creek South, came to share some special news with Spicer. Huston is the family’s genealogist and she said she’s pretty sure they are related.
“When you look at a picture of our father and then look at Sean, they look so much alike,” she said. “There’s the family resemblance and the blue eyes. And our original family was from the New York and Connecticut area like him.”
For his part, Spicer said he’ll remember his stop in The Villages for quite some time.
“I love the engagement,” he said. “It seems to be a place that people want to be because there’s a lot going on – a lot of activity, a lot of engagement and a lot of interest in what’s happening in the country.”
Spicer is one in a long line of high-profile authors who already have visited or will be coming to Barnes & Noble soon. In May, Fox News anchor Bret Baier, whose aunt, Kathy Scarito, lives in the Village of Sunset Pointe, signed copies of his latest book, “Three Days in Moscow: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of the Soviet Empire.” The 47-year-old is the host of “Special Report with Bret Baier” and chief political anchor for the Fox News Channel.
Fellow Fox personality Greg Gutfeld, host of “The Greg Gutfeld Show” and co-host of “The Five,” will be at Barnes & Noble on Aug. 25 at 2 p.m. to sign copies of his latest work titled “The Gutfeld Monologues: Classic Rants From The Five.” And Fox News political commentator Tucker Carlson, host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” will be at the popular bookstore Oct. 6 at 2:30 p.m. to sign copies of his new book titled “Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution.”
The store also is gearing up for an upcoming visit from “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy and his wife, Kathy. The couple will be at Barnes & Noble on Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. to sign copies of their new cookbook titled, “The Happy Cookbook: A Celebration of the Food That Makes America Smile.” The cookbook is being billed as “a collection of recipes and stories that celebrate comfort and inspire happiness all year round.”