White House spokesman departs on day of change in Egypt

Saturday, February 12, 2011

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs held his final White House briefing after more than two years on the job.

While Gibbs’ departure has been known for the past month, Obama couldn’t resist drawing a parallel with the day’s events in Egypt, as he appeared in the briefing room to pay tribute to his long-time adviser.

“Obviously Gibbs’ departure is not the biggest one today,” Obama quipped, referring to the resignation earlier Friday of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Gibbs will be replaced by Jay Carney, currently Vice President Joe Biden’s spokesman. But Gibbs told reporters that “I don’t intend to go anywhere”, as he will remain an adviser and supporter of the administration on television talk shows.

“I will miss boring days like today at the White House,” Gibbs joked.

Gibbs has been part of a tight inner circle of advisers since Obama first ran in the 2004 Senate election in his home state of Illinois. Gibbs later managed communications during the 2008 presidential campaign and became White House press secretary when Obama took office in January 2009.

Obama even credited Gibbs as the savior of the 2004 Democratic convention speech that would catapult Obama to stardom.

Gibbs apparently surrendered his tie just 10 minutes before the speech, after wife Michelle Obama complained that none of the ties Obama had brought would fit the occasion.

“Frankly, Robert didn’t want to give it up because he thought he looked really good in the tie,” Obama joked. “But eventually he was willing to take one for the Gipper … and that’s the tie that I wore at the national convention.”

Obama ceremoniously returned the blue tie to Gibbs, set inside a picture frame with two photographs.

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