At a Glance
- Career History:
Press Secretary for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (2001 to 2002); Spokesperson for Sen.
John F. Kerry's
presidential campaign (2003); Press Secretary for Sen.
(2004 to 2008)
- Birthday: March 29, 1971
- Hometown: Auburn, Ala.
- Alma Mater: North Carolina State University
- Spouse: Mary
- Web site
Path to Power
Gibbs grew up in Auburn, Ala., and still sports a slight southern accent. His mother was active in the League of Women Voters, and she brought her two sons around the state with her while campaigning. Gibbs was on the debate team in high school and played goalie for the North Carolina State soccer team.
In college, Gibbs interned for then-Rep. Glenn Browder (D-Ala.). Browder ran, unsuccessfully, for the Senate in 1996, and by then, Gibbs had worked his way up to executive assistant. "You could see he was good," Browder said. "He was good at working the phones and talking with the press. You never had to push Robert. He could work 24 hours a day."
Gibbs advises Obama on policy, but his main job is to control the message. The Chicago Tribune described him as a bulldog with "Northern ruthlessness and Southern charm combined."
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Gibbs was the go-to guy for TV interviews and knew how to tackle his questioners. When Fox News' Sean Hannity asked Gibbs whether Obama's association with former Weather Underground co-founder Bill Ayers made him "guilty by association," Gibbs fired back, asking whether having an anti-Semite on his show made Hannity anti-Semitic.
Gibbs is best known for being incredibly close to Obama. When Gibbs and his wife were trying to go to dinner during a vacation in Hawaii, Obama insisted they drop their 5-year-old son off with him.
In the White House press shop, he works closely with Obama Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer. And on the 2008 campaign, Gibbs crafted message with Obama senior advisers David Axelrod and David Plouffe.