Gibbs: I Will Not Lie

Peter Maer is a CBS News White House Correspondent.

(AP)
From his first bill signing to a series of events trumpeting the reversal of Bush era policies, President Obama has maintained what even Press Secretary Robert Gibbs describes as a "frenetic pace." At times the press office has churned out releases late into the night.

But in a radio interview with CBS News, Gibbs downplayed any prospect of burnout, saying, "I know he (President Obama) will pace himself and we'll pace ourselves."

Asked how the presidency has changed Mr. Obama, the press secretary said, "Just in the job itself he has in a very short period of time filled up the seat he sits in every day."

Gibbs quickly indicated the assessment is more in the eye of the beholder, noting that President Obama "has not let any of this stuff go to his head." He said the president "doesn't get too excited about good news. He doesn't get too down about bad news." The five-year Obama staff veteran added, "From where we started to where we are now, it's been remarkable to watch."

Gibbs also discussed the somewhat relaxed style at recent official events, where piano music and not "Hail to the Chief" could be heard wafting through the White House hallways as the president entered. (Also often missing: The formal announcement "Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States.")

Gibbs chuckled about the elevator-style music. He said he didn't know if the president had asked that musicians not play the presidential march but noted that Mr. Obama "is not a pomp and circumstance kind of guy." He said the president "is much more interested in the substance of the job."

In the interview, which will air this weekend on CBS Radio's "Weekend Roundup" (check local listings or listen here), Gibbs revealed that he believes his boss has finally quit smoking. He says he has not seen Barack Obama light up "in some time." Gibbs added, "He understands the powerful example he has to be for teenagers and adults around the world."

Gibbs also reflected on his own job, saying, "I haven't felt quite like the human piñata yet. I have a feeling those days are coming." When asked if he would ever lie from the podium, the press secretary responded with a flat "no."

"I think that whenever somebody in my capacity does that, it puts you in a position where reporters are now having to guess whether what you're saying is true or not," he said. "I think at that point, you're incapable of doing your job."

Like past press secretaries, Gibbs admitted there would be times when he would not be as open about what he may or not know, especially on national security issues. But he emphasized, "I'm not going to lie from that podium and I think the president would expect me to tell the truth."
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    Peter Maer is a CBS News White House Correspondent.

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