Outgoing White House press secretary Robert Gibbs got quite the departing gift from President Obama today on his last day: his old tie back.
The president had borrowed a light blue tie from Gibbs, taking it right from his neck, shortly before taking the stage speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the speech that is largely credited with catapulting a then-little known Senator from Illinois to the national scene.
“Ten minutes before we were about to go on stage, we were still having an argument about ties. I had bought five, six ties. And Michelle didn’t like any of them,” Obama recalled, “And then somebody — I don’t remember who it was — turned and said: ‘You know what? What about Gibbs’s tie? What about Gibbs’s tie? That might look good’.”
And that’s the tie that then-Senator Obama wore at the national convention.
“He has not said about — anything about this tie all these years,” Obama said, “but I have to tell you that I know there’s a simmering resentment that he never got it back. I wanted this on the record, on camera that I’m finally returning Robert’s tie.”
The president then presented Gibbs with the light blue tie, framed, along with a picture of President Obama wearing it during his speech in 2004, and a picture of them together in the Oval Office. A personal message was scribbled at the bottom with words from the president to Gibbs.
“If he chooses to break the glass, he can,” Obama joked if Gibbs’ wanted to ever actually wear the now-encapsulated famous tie again.
“But this is going to be a reminder to me that Robert has not only been an extraordinary press secretary, but he has been a great friend,” President Obama said, adding, “And you could not ask for somebody better in the foxhole with you during all the twists and turns of my candidacy and then the incredible challenges that we faced over the last two years.”
Robert Gibbs first started working for Obama during his 2004 Senate campaign.
“I still didn’t have a lot of money, so all I could afford was Gibbs,” the president joked.
Gibbs—whose last day at the podium is today after 250 formal briefings — seemed emotional when speaking about his tenure, not only at the White House, but working with Obama over the years.
“It is a tremendous honor and privilege to do this each and every day, to serve and to take part in days like today that are so momentous,” Gibbs said.
President Obama joked that, “Obviously, Gibbs’ departure is not the biggest one today,” a veiled reference to the resignation today by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Vice President Biden’s spokesman, Jay Carney, has been chosen to replace Gibbs, starting on Monday.
-Sunlen Miller and Jake Tapper