Obama walks into Oval Office

January 21, 2009 12:00 am

, NEW YORK, Jan 21 – President Barack Obama on Tuesday will likely take his first steps in the Oval Office, the heart of power in the White House, just hours after being sworn in, his chief spokesman said.

"We anticipate that he will, after he watches some of the parade, probably go in there for a few minutes," Robert Gibbs said during his first informal question-and-answer session with reporters in the White House.

But the 44th president was unlikely to take any major decisions in his first day in office, he indicated.

Former president George W. Bush said at his final press conference last week that, "the minute he walks in the Oval Office" Obama will feel "the responsibilities of the president land squarely on his shoulders."

Gibbs signalled that the moving-in process was making progress, with some officials able to get settled even as painters still worked in the West Wing, but said he was having some computer trouble.

"Now we just have to figure out how to log on our computers," he said, before joking about the small number of "W" keys that went missing in a January 2001 prank when Bush took office.

"All the keys are intact, I just don’t know the code to get in," said Gibbs, who praised outgoing officials including his predecessor Dana Perino’s cooperation in ensuring a smooth handover of power.

"All of our staff now would agree that their counterparts were very helpful," said the spokesman, who had yet to read the note traditionally left by departing press secretaries in a symbolic flak jacket for their successors.

"Dana showed me where it was and told me to read it early, but I have not had a chance to read it yet." he said, joking "that’s why I’m out here."

Gibbs said he had received his first email on his brand new official government blackberry handheld device at 12:07 pm (1707 GMT), the transcript of Obama’s inaugural address, from a White House stenographer.

"The next email said ‘you’re the only one I sent this to because you’re the only email address I had,’" he laughed.

Gibbs ducked a question about whether Obama possessed a working blackberry, saying: "That’s a good question, I just don’t know the answer. There were a lot of things I was thinking about making sure that he had this morning, the blackberry wasn’t the first thing."


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