Scotty’s Party

Friday was Scott McClellan’s final White House press conference (highlights from the conference when you click below) and following it, reporters held a little party to toast Scotty’s departure. Although it got interrupted slightly by the announcement of Porter Goss’ resignation, it was a grand ‘ol affair nonetheless.

From a source at the scene:

“Scott came down with his wife, Jill, who super-nice but bears a disconcerting resemblance to Laura Bush.

There was a recorded message from CBS’ Mark Knoller, who is recuperating in the hospital, and another from Scott’s mother, who told ‘Scotty-baby’ to gather up that ragamuffin menagerie (two dogs, four cats) and get his wife home to Texas, etc. She is one tough grandma. Her campaign t-shirts and yard signs are all over the basement.

There was a poem, and a faux briefing, and other entertainments, and a toast. There was also tons of food and a plate of sugar cookies that say ‘Scott’ in red, white and blue frosting.

It wasn’t quite the Bloomberg party (for one, there were more journalists) but it was a good time. Scott told Helen Thomas, ‘No more follow-ups for you.’

She dispensed some sage advice on the margins: Don’t be photographed with a drink in your hand.”

So how will Tony Snow do in his first day today? Stay tuned….

Some McClellan briefing highlights after the jump:

Some highlights:

  • Upon walking in the briefing room: “MR. McCLELLAN: (Applause.) Big turnout today. Something going on?

  • To David Gregory: “This is it for you, pal. (Laughter.)”

  • (Unclear which reporter) “I want to first go on record as saying that I appreciate the way you have treated us, all of us fairly and professionally over these years.

    MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you. It’s been an honor.”

  • “Have you given any advice to your successor about how he might help the President grapple with turning these numbers around? And any thoughts you want to share with us, on this, your last briefing?

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that my successor is going to do a great job. Tony Snow is a very capable individual, and I wish him all the best. He is someone who is coming into this job looking forward to working with you all, and looking forward to continue to build upon what we have done over the course of the last five-and-a-half years. I think that the most important way to continue to reach out to the American people is for the President to continue to be out there doing the events that he’s doing, where he’s taking questions, he’s visiting with real Americans, and hearing what’s on their minds. And sometimes there’s a disconnect between what might be covered in Washington and what the American people are most focused on. And I think you sometimes see that in some of those town hall-type settings that the President participates in.

    And so, our greatest asset is the President, and that’s why it’s important to continue to provide access to you all to him, and to keep him out there in those kind of settings.

    Q Scott, what are your thoughts on this being your last day?

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of the advice, my advice to Tony is, have fun and enjoy this. It is a great job, and there are certainly challenges with it, but it is very rewarding. And I’ll talk more about the end — about some of this, too.

    Q Scott, first of all, we will miss you, the best of luck on the lecture circuit.

    MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you. I will miss you all in this room, too — individually, at least. (Laughter.)

  • Goyal.

    Q Two quick questions. One, of course, we’ll miss you, all, I’m sure. And you have been one of the greatest press secretaries we ever had in the White House.

    MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t know about that, but thank you, Goyal.

    Q And whatever you do, we wish you all the best, and I hope President will have maybe something better for you.

    MR. McCLELLAN: It’s been a real honor. I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

  • April.

    Q Scott, as this is your last briefing, could you reflect on your worst day at Press Secretary, and even your best day? (Laughter.) And also, as the President’s poll numbers are at their all-time low, can you talk to the American public as to why you trust and you are very loyal to this President?

    MR. McCLELLAN: April, I guess that’s about a three- or four-part question there in one.

    Q You know I’m good for that. (Laughter.)

    MR. McCLELLAN: But let me start off by saying that it has been a real honor to serve as the White House Press Secretary. I cannot thank the President enough for the privilege of being a part of his team. And I am thinking about this, as I reflect on this day, in a sense of gratitude. I’m grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had. I’m grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had to work with people in this room. And that’s the way I’m looking at it.

    In terms of the best day or the best moments, the best moments are when we’re visiting the troops, when we’re going to Afghanistan and visiting Bagram Air Base, and seeing our troops that are on the front lines of the war on terrorism, or when we were going to Fort Bragg in North Carolina a few years ago, and visiting the special ops forces, those who achieve great successes that are rarely heard about in the public, because most of their work is done in a very quiet yet important way.

    So those are the moments I think about when I think about the best part of being the Press Secretary. And certainly, there are other moments that are some of the most memorable, but they’re also some of the toughest. This President recognizes the importance of his responsibility to comfort the families of the fallen, and to visit the wounded, those at Bethesda, or those at Walter Reed or elsewhere around the country. He’ll be visiting with some families of fallen this evening, some families of fallen Marines who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq.

    And I’ve been with the President when he’s visited those families. I’ve been with the President when he’s visited the wounded. And this President knows that the most difficult decision a President has to make is to send our men and women in uniform into combat. And he takes that responsibility very seriously, and he also takes the responsibility very seriously of comforting those who have lost loved ones, and personally thanking those who have made significant sacrifices in the war on terrorism, those who have suffered great wounds. We are forever grateful to those soldiers, and I will remember those moments most. And it reminds me of the kind of President that we have in office, and what a privilege it has been to serve him.

  • Let me take a couple of minutes just to say a few quick thank-yous. I’ve already thanked the President, and I want to say that I’m also forever grateful to the President and Mrs. Bush for making this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity really special. My wife and I value our friendship with the President and Mrs. Bush.

    I also want to thank the entire White House staff, because you cannot do this job without the support and help of all those that are part of this team. My job is to help provide you information so that you can do your job, and to help the President advance his agenda. And I depend on people throughout this White House for timely responses.

    I thank my colleagues on the senior staff. It has been a real privilege to be a part of a senior staff that is such a fine group of people. I want to thank the White House Military Office. They help make the White House function. And the White House Communications Office in particular, I think that that is a group that if they need to get a message to you, they can find you about anywhere in the world. The Situation Room staff, they’re the ones who track events around the world 24-7, and they do a great job of keeping us informed.

    The traveling team, the Air Force One crew, the Travel Office, the Advance teams, particularly the younger folks on the Advance team, because when we travel, they help all of our lives go a little bit smoother. And I’m grateful for all the help that they have provided when I don’t always get the chance to say it.

    The President’s military aides who are always with him. They represent the best of our military and I’m proud to call them friends — all those, those that are currently serving and those that served before them.

    The communications team at the White House. This is a terrific team, and we work very closely together. And I’m grateful for their friendship, as well.

    Most importantly, I need to thank the Press Office staff. I know you all appreciate all that they do to help you, and I’m forever indebted to them for all that they’ve done to help me. My assistant Tina, the staff assistants — Nathan, Amanda, John, Carlton, Lois, assistant press secretaries, Josh Deckard, Erin Healy. Thank you.

    Most importantly, I think, in terms of the Press Office staff, that I just want to do a special thank-you to my deputies — Dana and Fred and Ken. You all have been a terrific help to me, and I depend on you a lot. But I also want to thank those who preceded you that I worked with — Trent, who beat me to the punch a little bit. Sean and Claire, I really started this with Sean and Claire. And I’ve got a lasting friendship with them, and I look forward to continuing to stay in touch with them.

    And I thank the President’s Cabinet, as well. It’s been a privilege to work with them and all those throughout the administration, particularly the communicators.

    And the biggest personal thank-you, I think, goes to my wife, Jill, because she has made a lot of sacrifice in order for me to serve the American people and serve this President and work with you all. And I cannot thank her enough for all that she’s been through. And I look forward to beginning the new chapter in our life together.

    Finally, I want to thank each of you in this room and each of you in the White House press corps that aren’t here today. Thank you for all you do to keep the American people informed. Thank you for all you do to hold those of us in elected office accountable for the decisions that are made. Keep after it. Keep up the good work. You are a terrific bunch of professionals, and it has been a real honor to serve with you all. Thank you. (Applause.)

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