Even though they were on competing teams during the primary, he thinks Mr. Gibbs is “exceedingly smart, fun to be around, and a good person. You rarely get three out of three in one person in Washington.”
From the podium
“Let me just take a second to get organized,” the press secretary says - almost every day - when taking his position in front of reporters gathered in the Brady Briefing Room.
Reporters genuinely like Mr. Gibbs, but privately they complain about the briefings and what he said himself is a sometimes “overbearing” style defending his boss.
Reporters so far are saying they appreciate that he allows follow-up questions, though his frequent non-answers get old.
Others have called it “painful,” saying they must fight to stay awake as he gives long answers with repetitive administration talking points.
So far he’s had few major errors - he goofed and revealed during the televised briefing a senior adviser’s name who had given a background-only talk earlier in the day.
He tries to make up for such gaffes with humor, regularly working in sports metaphors and making a “food fight” joke not long after he compared Congress to “Dancing With the Stars.”
He got laughs for lines such as: “I’m not an economist, and I don’t play one on TV, and I won’t play one on TV today.”
Reporters view him as an affable but ferocious deflector of any critical story about his boss.
A reporter who worked with Mr. Gibbs on the campaign trail said the press briefings are both boring and collegial, adding: “I don’t know if that bodes for good or evil.”
The reporter also quipped, “He’s a guy’s guy who seems to have somehow read a copy of the erstwhile girl’s book “The Rules”: He only answers one out of every three calls and will every so often threaten to break up with you over seemingly nothing.”
Others noted for this story that he’s friendly but “for the most part, completely unhelpful.”
A top official close to the press secretary once confided in the press that Mr. Gibbs was a bit anxious during airplane travel, especially given the frequent bumps, rough landings and air pockets encountered on the campaign charter. A Heineken would sometimes help, the official said.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Gibbs’ most-used line was “I’ll get back to you,” but he rarely did. Reporters grumbled during the transition that Mr. Gibbs often ignored multiple calls and e-mails but have since said they appreciate his accessibility and proximity to the press room.