Obama staffer with local tie named press secretary
Published 11:36 am Sunday, November 23, 2008
Gibbs has uncle in Washington, father from Bath
From staff and wire reports
Two of the top qualities Robert L. “Bobby” Gibbs brings to the job of White House press secretary are ones not found on his resume: He won’t flinch at telling it like it is to the next president or telling it like he thinks it ought to be to the media.
Gibbs has been at the side of President-elect Barack Obama since his Senate campaign in 2004. A Southerner and tough fighter, Gibbs has been a passionate defender of Obama who can virtually channel the Illinois senator’s thoughts.
The younger Gibbs was born in Alabama, where his parents worked for Auburn University, to a family with roots in Bath and Hyde County.
During the presidential campaign, Gibbs, 37, served as communications director and was among the few who could frankly tell Obama what needed to improve.
He didn’t hesitate to tell the media when he thought they got it wrong, either. He fiercely guarded Obama’s image.
One critic called Gibbs “the bland face of brazenness” when he said Obama’s decision to resign from his church amid the controversy over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was “a deeply personal decision, not a political decision.”
A former roommate who worked with Gibbs on Capitol Hill said Gibbs has been a successful press secretary because he’s a people person who combines top-notch political skills with a quick wit.
Gibbs’ uncle, Milo Otis of Washington, described his nephew as affable, good-looking and bright in an interview earlier this month.
He said, “He’s always smiling.”
Gibbs still visits the area and enjoys walking along the Pamlico, Milo Gibbs said. He sees his nephew about twice a year, on average, he said.
His mother, Nancy Gibbs, was active in the League of Women Voters and would take her son with her to polling places and the local courthouse. Political discussions around the dinner table were often lively.
Gibbs majored in political science at North Carolina State University, and got his start in politics in 1991 as an intern for former Rep. Glen Browder, D-Ala.
But his politics also involved many campaigns closer to his family’s roots.