WASHINGTON (CNN) - On a day of historic change both inside and outside the White House, President Obama paid a visit to the White House briefing room to pay tribute to his outgoing spokesman, and to reveal an unknown fact about one of his more memorable addresses.
"Obviously Gibbs's departure is not the biggest one today," Obama said in a surprise appearance to Robert Gibbs's last briefing in the James S. Brady briefing room Friday. But it was on this occasion the president revealed that the tie he wore in his historic speech to the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston was not his.
"Ten minutes before we were about to go on stage, we were still having an argument about ties. I bought five or six ties, Michelle didn't like any of them," Obama said. After declining the fashion advice of the famously rumpled David Axelrod, Obama said Gibbs eventually took "one for the gipper," and gave the tie he was wearing to Obama to wear on stage after several other staffers made the suggestion. The speech is seen by many as the moment Obama first walked on to the national stage.
"He has not said anything about this tie all these years," Obama said as he handed Gibbs a glass enclosed frame bearing the tie, a photo of the two together, and an inscription from Obama to Gibbs. "I know there's a simmering resentment that he never got it back. And so as a consequence, I wanted here today, I wanted this on the record, on camera, that I am returning Robert's tie."
"I thought that I should give you your tie back," Obama said when asked by reporters what the inscription read. "It and you helped me get started." Obama said he did not actually sign the tie on the chance Gibbs might want to wear it again one day.
Gibbs has been at the president's side for over seven years. "I realized that I was going to have to start staffing up," Obama said harkening back to the very early days of his run for the U.S. Senate in 2004. "I still didn't have a lot of money so all I could afford was Gibbs." All kidding aside, the president said Gibbs was a "great friend," and said he 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've faced over the last two years."
Gibbs will leave the White House for good this Sunday and take on a role as an outside advisor to the White House, while also giving paid speeches, and appearing on television to defend administration policies. Jay Carney, a former White House reporter for Time Magazine, and communications director for Vice President Biden, will take over the podium on Monday.
Enough already. Gibbs 15 min. are up and it is time for him to go.