Though he is stepping away from the podium, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has certainly made his mark during his two-year tenure as the White House mouthpiece. (Gibbs will be replaced by Jay Carney, communications director for Vice President Joe Biden.)
Besides his professional responsibilities as the go-between for the Obama administration and the press corps, Gibbs will also be remembered for his devotion to Auburn football, his mix of pastel ties and his Southern charm. (Of course, he wasn’t always polite – who can forget the foot-in-the door moment in India?)
In honor of his departure, POLITICO has compiled a list of some of the outgoing press secretary’s memorable moments and a handful of notable Gibbs-isms:
Favorite way to lead into an answer: “Look” or “Well, look … ”
Signature accessories: Pastel-hued ties and pink dress shirts
Often-uttered word and phrase: “I don’t want to get ahead of the president.”
… but when in a less chipper mood, it’s: “I appreciate the opportunity to speculate, but … ”
Gets ribbed for: His Southern drawl. Gibbs is known for entering a room and saying, “How are yew?” in his Alabama twang.
Most memorable public spat: Gibbs had a heated moment last fall with “Fox and Friends” co-anchor Gretchen Carlson about the Iraq war. “Gretchen, I don’t know whether this is you actually interviewing me or just a tape of you looping the same question over and over,” Gibbs said of the number of times Carlson asked him whether Obama would credit President Bush for his role in Iraq.
Favorite way to blow off steam: A ride on his “sweet new Trek bike,” as he once tweeted.
The Gibbs we never thought we’d see:
1) Wearing a Canadian hockey jersey while briefing the White House press corps after losing a bet. He took it off moments later to show off the U.S. team jersey he was hiding underneath. “I’m a little warm,” he told reporters.
2) Channeling a school teacher by confiscating Human Events’s John Gizzi’s cell phone after it rang twice during a briefing. He then opened a door and threw the buzzing phone into the press office as reporters roared in laughter. “I made the determination that the illumination of the sound was distracting to the briefing as the press secretary to the president of the United States,” Gibbs said, chuckling. Moments later, he teasingly chided CBS’s Bill Plante after his phone also went off mid-briefing. “You too?”
3) Hitting the water in a dunk tank while wearing gym clothes (courtesy Plante and the AP’s Ben Feller) during a press event before a Hawaiian luau on the South Lawn. After he dried off, Gibbs joked, “We need to get one of these for the briefing room.”
4) A gambling man: Gibbs won a $50 bet against American Urban Radio Network’s April Ryan regarding comments made during a press briefing. He told POLITICO that he would use his big payout to buy his brother a birthday present.
Most pro-press moment: The press secretary stuck his foot out to prevent Indian security officials from closing a door on eight members of the White House press corps who were set to cover a meeting between Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Most aww-inducing moment: When he broke the news of his departure, Gibbs mentioned his son, Ethan: “There’s a little boy who probably needs a ride to school every now and then.”
Best parody: Gibbs took a crack at Sarah Palin after she was critiqued for writing talking points on her hand at the first National Tea Party Conference in Nashville. The press secretary looked at his own ink-stained palm and said, “I wrote a few things down. I wrote eggs, milk and bread. I crossed out bread. Just so I can make pancakes for Ethan if it snows. Then I wrote down ‘hope and change,’ just in case I forgot that.”
The photo he couldn’t live down: Gibbs’s official North Carolina State soccer team photo hangs in the White House press office and features hearts drawn around his head. The snapshot has garnered laughs from many, including President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.