White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs gives his final press briefing at the White House in Washington, February 11, 2011
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs gives his final press briefing at the White House in Washington, February 11, 2011

The man who served President Obama as White House press secretary for the past two years, Robert Gibbs, held his last media briefing on Friday. The president made a personal appearance to wish his long time adviser and friend good luck.

Entering a packed briefing room, the president began by joking that Robert Gibbs' departure was "not the biggest one of the day" - a reference to the momentous events in Egypt where President Hosni Mubarak stepped down.

The president recalled that Gibbs was one of his first advisers in his home state of Illinois, and had loaned him a tie to use for an address to the Democratic convention in Boston in 2004. That speech catapulted Obama into the national spotlight.

The president had never given the tie back, and on Friday Obama presented it, encased in a large frame, to Gibbs, to whom the president paid tribute.

"Robert has not only been an extraordinary press secretary but he has been a great friend, and you could not ask for somebody better in the fox hole with you during all the twists and turns of my candidacy and then the incredible challenges that we faced over the last two years," he said.

Gibbs now becomes a Democratic Party consultant and will help President Obama in his bid for re-election in 2012.

Replacing Gibbs starting next Monday will be Jay Carney, a former Time magazine journalist who served as communication director for Vice President Joe Biden. The president predicted Carney will do an "outstanding job" filling Gibbs' shoes.

In his remarks, Gibbs said it had been a tremendous honor and extraordinary privilege to serve as press secretary, and thanked his staff.  

He also provided a humorous look ahead at what he expects to be doing next week, including spending as much time as he can with his young son Ethan.

"The former press secretary will travel with Ethan Gibbs to school," he said. "In the morning he will catch some Sports Center and a bike ride if the weather holds up. In the afternoon he is hoping for a nap, before walking several hundred feet to the bus stop to greet Ethan.  Travel pool will accompany. Fortunately for me I do not anticipate any further public events for the remainder of the week."

Gibbs wished reporters well, saying that as he and the media handled some very serious subjects and "watched the world change" he hopes all had some fun doing it too.