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New White House press secretary's first time in the hot seat

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs holds his first press briefing, Thursday.

Ron Edmonds/AP

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You thought it was packed on the Mall for inauguration? Try the White House press room for spokesman Robert Gibbs’s first briefing Thursday. It was a vision of human gridlock, all seats taken and all available inches along the sidelines packed with additional reporters, photographers, and cameramen.

Mr. Gibbs strode into the room at 1:40 p.m., 10 minutes late, wearing an Obama-esque dark suit, white shirt, and powder-blue tie. Without any fuss, he launched into his first announcement: Barack Obama has added a new fixture to the presidential schedule, a daily economic briefing, like the daily intelligence briefing. Each evening the president will receive a memo on the economy, to be updated the next morning by Larry Summers, his top in-house economist. With the economy teetering on the edge, Mr. Obama wants daily input on how it’s all going, just as he does on national security matters.

So far so good. After a few questions on Guantanamo, a topic well-ploughed during an earlier briefing today, that do-over swearing-in came up. If the White House counsel’s office was concerned enough about the botched oath-taking on Tuesday to invite Chief Justice John Roberts over Wednesday evening to it all again – this time, correctly – did that mean Obama also re-signed all the executive orders he had issued earlier that day? No, Gibbs replied. “The counsel’s office believes the president had been sworn in effectively,” he said. But “out of an abundance of caution,” counsel Greg Craig had recommended that Mr. Roberts come on over anyway.

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