President Obama came into the briefing room this afternoon during White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ final go at the podium to thank him for his years of service to the Obama, as a senator, candidate and president.
“I don’t think we could have a better press secretary,” Obama said.
The farewell to Gibbs seemed perhaps a bit akward amid the extraordinary events occurring across the globe in Egypt, an incongruity Obama sought to diminish with a quip. “Gibbs’ departure is not the biggest one today,” he said to laughter in the briefing room.
Gibbs first came to work for Obama during the 2004 Senate race after he won the Democratic primary. “I still didn’t have a lot of money, so all I could afford was Gibbs,” he joked. Gibbs labored in the Senate press office and was a key player on Obama’s team during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Gibbs appeared somewhat emotional – not John Boehner emotional, but emotional – as the president offered apparently heartfelt remarks and presented him with a bit of history to take home.
The gift, albeit a bit self-referential – OK, actually, it’s really really self-referential – nevertheless seemed an appropriate and valuable bestowal that will be treasured by Gibbs and possibly fetch a fortune when his future grandson puts it up on Ebay.
Apparently, when Obama was preparing to hit the stage to deliver his career-making speech before the 2004 Democratic Convention, he hadn’t decided on a tie. After considering several, he grabbed one from Gibbs. Gibbs got the tie back today as part of a glass-encased plaque autographed by Obama.
Obama tells the story:
I mean, 10 minutes before we were about to go on stage we were still having an argument about ties. I had brought five, six ties, and Michelle didn’t like any of them. Axelrod didn’t like a couple of them, him being, you know, one of the best-dressed men in the world.
So we really valued his opinion.
And then somebody — I don’t remember who it was — turned and said, “You know what? What about Gibbs’ tie? What about Gibbs’ tie? That might look good.”
And, frankly, Robert didn’t want to give it up because he thought he looked really good in the tie. But eventually he was willing to take one for the Gipper, and so he took off his tie and I put it on. And that’s the tie that I wore at the national convention.
He has not said about – anything about this tie all these years. And so as a consequence, I wanted, here today…
… the — I wanted this on the record, on camera…
… that I am finally returning Robert’s tie.