Obama surprises press secretary Josh Earnest on his last day

Washington, Jan 18 (IANS) President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to the White House daily press briefing to praise his spokesman Josh Earnest.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest held his final White House press briefing on Tuesday at the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House.

“Even though it’s my last day, you better not let up now,” Earnest joked at the start of the press conference.

“So in that spirit, let me say for the last time standing up here, let’s get started with the questions,” he added.

Shortly after, President Obama entered the room and praised his third and final press secretary.

“He’s never disappointed. He has always been the guy you wanted him to be,” Obama said, saying he had known Earnest for nearly 10 years, since he joined the Obama campaign in Iowa ahead of the 2008 presidential elections.

The president said he was initially stricken by Earnest’s “all American” good looks when they met in Iowa, and said he had a “face made for television.” But he said he has always felt Earnest to be a man of integrity.

“What struck me most in addition to his smarts and maturity and actual interest in the issues was is integrity,” Obama said pm Tuesday. “There are people you meet who, you have a pretty good inkling off the bat, are straight shooters.”

Obama added, “he is not only a great press secretary, he is a really, really good man.”

“I’ve now known this guy for ten years and I’ve watched him grow, I’ve watched him advance, I’ve watched him marry, be a father and I’ve watched him manage younger people coming up behind him

“He has never disappointed and always been the guy you wanted him to be. He is a really, really good man and I am really, really proud of him,” he said.

Earnest participated in, by some counts, his 354th press briefing on Tuesday.

The topics ranged from the presidential transition to the involvement of Russia in the 2016 presidential election. Earnest also confirmed reports that the Obamas would be going on vacation in Palm Springs, Calif. after the inauguration of Donald Trump. He would not, however, say how long they’ll be saying, reported time.com.

The press secretary was also pressed on the future of the briefing, given statements by the incoming administration that they’d consider either moving the briefing out of the James Brady Press Briefing room or changing the way it is handled. Earnest said he had advised incoming Press Secretary Sean Spicer to engage with the White House Correspondents’ Association and added that while press access may be “uncomfortable” at times, “it’s important”.