White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs held his regular press briefing today — the first since he announced that he will be stepping down. And as such, the subjects of his departure and the overall changes in White House staffing were quite prominent among reporters’ questions.
“It is — and you all know this because you do this as well — it is an honor and a privilege to stand here, to work inside this building, to serve your country, to work for a president that I admire as much as President Barack Obama,” said Gibbs. “I have been a member of his staff for almost seven years, and again it’s a remarkable privilege. It is in many ways the opportunity of a lifetime, one that I will be forever thankful and grateful for.”
“What I am going to do next is step back a bit, recharge some. We’ve been going at this pace for at least four years. I will have an opportunity to give some speeches, I will continue to provide advice and counsel to this building and this president. And I look forward to continuing to do that.”Later on, Gibbs also discussed the departure of senior White House adviser David Axelrod, and the return of former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.
“And I think it does an administration good, and it will do this administration good, to have people like David Plouffe and others come into an administration, who haven’t been here, who have been able to watch a little bit from the outside,” said Gibbs. “We all admit, you have to admit there’s a bubble in here to some degree. So I think having new voices, having fresh voices, some of those voices coming in here after taking a few years off, are an important part of this process.”
Would he ever work for other political campaigns again, a reporter asked? “I have probably worked for — my current boss is probably my last political candidate,” Gibbs responded.
Later, he was asked about that reply, and why Obama would be his last campaign. His answer: “Seems like a pretty good one to stop on.”
Gibbs was also asked whether the results of the 2010 midterm elections had spurred his decision. “I didn’t make a decision to step away because of the midterms,” he replied. “It’s a very natural time to recharge, and get some fresh voices, including someone up here.” [Referring to the podium in the press room.]
Toward the end, Gibbs was asked whether he had ruled out returning to the Obama administration during a potential second term.
“I’m not gonna – I wouldn’t close the door,” said Gibbs. “I told the president I’m happy to serve as the Ambassador to Italy in the second administration. Begrudgingly, I’ll do it — but you’ve got me, I’ll do it.”