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Mr. Gibbs, 37, seems amused that he has gotten so much attention back home.

Past friends, friends of friends and a teacher who knew someone who knew him in preschool are all coming forward to wish him well as he becomes the face of the Obama administration.

Settling in

Mr. Gibbs told The Times it’s funny “how many people seem surprised I have decent clothes that look good on TV” and noted it is a far more “mature setting” than the campaign trail.

At that moment in the early evening, Mr. Gibbs was sitting in his office sans jacket but sporting cuff links, his pink tie a bit crooked from the long day.

He answered his phone with “Hey” and in a conversation with a reporter that night, twice said “cool” before hanging up.

CNN played on a large flat-screen television on the opposite wall from his desk, not far from a sign displaying the times in Washington, London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Doha, Baghdad, Moscow and Beijing.

Mr. Gibbs said he will need to do some decorating, and his office does look like one in transition - binders are scattered around the room along with a stray hole punch and a Diet Coke can. His desk - most recently used by Bush White House press secretary Dana Perino - is littered with newspapers, his security badge and both BlackBerrys.

Friends and colleagues who have gotten to know Mr. Gibbs as he has worked as communications director or spokesman for a host of Democratic candidates and legislators say they love that he brings a Southern twang to the job, both literally and in spirit.

“In these tough times, his wit and genuine Southern charm is needed,” said former colleague Cara Morris Stern of Hildebrand Tewes Consulting, who worked with Mr. Gibbs when he was at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2001 through 2003. She is “glued to the TV” to watch Mr. Gibbs at the podium, she added.

She remembered Mr. Gibbs once describing a Republican’s tiny media buy as “like spitting in the Chattahoochee and measuring for change of depth,” just one of the many “Southernisms” she hopes he shares with the nation.

Deputy press secretary Bill Burton said some staffers raised eyebrows in a recent meeting when Mr. Gibbs used a metaphor that was “something about a white horse on a lawn eating an apple.”

“He sometimes is so down-home he gets almost too folksy for even his own staff to understand,” a laughing Mr. Burton said.

Former John Edwards spokesman Mark Kornblau, who worked with Mr. Gibbs on a 2000 campaign, said he had hoped some of the Southern charm would rub off on him after they shared close quarters.

“I used to go sit in a chair next to his desk to listen while he returned reporters’ calls. You could charge admission for that,” Mr. Kornblau said. “Robert uses some very colorful expressions that unfortunately don’t work for those of us born without the Southern accent.”

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