Robert L. Gibbs (b. March 29, 1971) was the 28th White House Press Secretary. Gibbs was the communications director for then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama and Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Gibbs, who has worked with Obama since 2004, was press secretary of John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign and has previously specialized in Senate campaigns, having served as communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and for four individual Senate campaigns, including those of Obama in 2004 and Fritz Hollings in 1998. Gibbs was also the press secretary of Representative Bob Etheridge. On November 22, 2008, Gibbs was announced as the press secretary of the Obama administration. He assumed the role of press secretary on January 20, 2009, and gave his first official briefing on January 22. On January 5, 2011, Gibbs announced that he would leave the White House to become an outside advisor to the administration. He left on February 11, 2011.
Robert Gibbs was born in Auburn, Alabama. His parents, Nancy and Robert Coleman Gibbs, worked in the Auburn University library system and involved their son in politics at an early age.
Nancy Gibbs would take Robert, then known as "Bobby," to local League of Women Voters meetings rather than hire a babysitter, and involved him in "voter re-identification" work at the county courthouse. Gibbs attended Auburn City Schools and Auburn High School. At Auburn High, Gibbs played saxophone in the Auburn High School Band, was a goalkeeper on the Tigers' soccer team, and participated in the school's debate squad. Gibbs graduated from Auburn High in 1989, in the same class as novelist Ace Atkins, LEGO artist Eric Harshbarger, and the Chief Hospitalist at Valley Medical Center, Dr. Michael Mena. Gibbs went on to attend the North Carolina State University, serving as goalkeeper for the North Carolina State Wolfpack soccer team from 1990 to 1992. Gibbs graduated from North Carolina State cum laude with a B.A. in political science in 1993.
While a student at North Carolina State in 1991, Gibbs became an intern for Congressman Glenn Browder. Gibbs quickly rose through the ranks of Browder's staff, rising to become the representative's executive assistant in Washington, D.C.. Gibbs returned to Alabama in 1996 to work on Browder's unsuccessful Senate campaign that year. In 1997, Gibbs was press secretary for Congressman Bob Etheridge of North Carolina and, in 1998, was spokesman for Senator Fritz Hollings' campaign.
Gibbs worked in the campaigns of two other senators and served as communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, before taking the position of press secretary of John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.
U.S. presidential election, 2004
Early in the 2004 presidential campaign, Gibbs was the press secretary of Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry. On November 11, 2003, Gibbs resigned "in reaction to the firing of Jim Jordan, abruptly let go by Kerry Sunday night." He was criticized in February 2007, during the Obama Presidential campaign, by some left leaning bloggers. Gibbs joined Barack Obama's 2004 U.S. Senate campaign as communications director in mid-April 2004 and remained with the senator through the first two years of Obama's term.
U.S. presidential election, 2008
The appointment of Gibbs by Obama to the post of communications chief was met with mild controversy by some critics in the Democratic National Committee, who cited Gibbs' role in the aggressive campaign tactics used to block the nomination of Howard Dean in the 2004 race. In his communications role, Gibbs became known as "the enforcer" because of his aggressive rapid-response methods for countering disinformation tactics from opponents.
White House Press Secretary
On November 22, 2008, it was announced by the Obama Transition Team that Gibbs would be the White House Press Secretary for the Obama administration. He assumed the role of press secretary on January 20, 2009, and gave his first official briefing on January 22. Gibbs has repeatedly angered some Democrats, such as by acknowledging the Republicans could win the House of Representatives in 2010.
Robert Gibbs is married to Mary Catherine Gibbs, an attorney, and lives in Alexandria, Virginia with their son, Ethan. His parents live in Apex, North Carolina, where his mother Nancy is acquisitions director for the libraries at Duke University. Gibbs is a college football fan, particularly of the Auburn Tigers.