- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2006

Shortly after White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan held his farewell briefing with reporters yesterday, the 38-year-old got some good advice on what he should do next — advice he’d better listen to if he knows what’s good for him.

“Scottie baby, this is the comptroller of all public accounts for the great state of Texas and you need to get yourself home. Never mind ‘the president this …’ and ‘the president that. …’

“I don’t want to hear, ‘I can’t comment on an ongoing investigation,’ and I don’t want to hear, ‘I’ve already answered that question and we’ve already covered that.’”

That advice came from Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who made sure that everyone who heard her recorded remarks played at a small going-away party thrown by White House correspondents knew just who she is.

“This is your mama talking!” she said as reporters tittered about the staid Mr. McClellan being called “Scottie baby.”

“I’m sure she’s thinking I might have a little bit more time on my hands to help,” the cherubic Mr. McClellan said in his morning gaggle with reporters.

But he added that while he eventually plans to return to Texas, where he first worked for Gov. George W. Bush, “I’m not rushing off.

“But eventually I want to get back to the greatest state in the world. The greatest country, some people say,” he said with a smile.

In the meantime, the always-on-message, always-on-point spokesman said he’s only just beginning to think about his post-White House days, having served for two years and nine months as the voice of President Bush.

“Like what?” one inquisitive reporter asked.

“Speakers bureaus and the speaking circuit, other opportunities from various organizations,” responded Mr. McClellan, who could easily command five-figure fees for 45 minutes of work.

“There have been a couple of book opportunities that have already been — I’ve been approached about it,” he added.

Mr. McClellan hands over the reins of the White House press operation next week to Fox News personality Tony Snow, who will make his debut on May 15. Next week, Mr. McClellan will travel on his final trips with his boss, including a three-day jaunt through Florida.

“People ask me ‘What are you doing?’ ” the spokesman said in the basement bash thrown by reporters. “I’m going to Disney World!” he said with a laugh.

The tough-talking Mr. McClellan, who often refused to budge when frustrated reporters demanded answers, was introspective yesterday when asked about his fondest memories on the job.

“I think the thing that I will remember most about being here is visiting the troops. … And some of the most memorable moments are also some of the toughest moments — being with the president when he visited with families of the fallen,” he said. “And to see the spirit of those who have been wounded; it’s an amazing experience. I mean, it’s something that sticks in your mind and it will forever.”

Mr. McClellan, though, did seem to take a bit of glee from not having to face obstreperous reporters, especially opinion writer Helen Thomas. The spokesman took the opportunity to rib the longtime reporter. “Helen, no more follow-ups,” he said with a smile and a laugh.

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