ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE – Outgoing White House press secretary Scott McClellan had already said goodbye to the television cameras. On Wednesday, he spent his final day on the job accompanying President Bush on Air Force One — handing out farewell brownies.
Bush and the small cadre of aides who travel with him gathered in the plane's wood-paneled conference room for a private goodbye party on the way back to Washington from Florida. There was a round of short speeches — and platters of brownies that McClellan's wife, Jill, had made and sent along.
The always-gentlemanly spokesman appeared afterward in the press cabin to share the baked goods. He indulged a few photos, but made sure photographers stopped shooting long enough to partake.
"This is it, my final day," he said, sporting the grin that has been growing ever wider.
Throughout the president's three-day stay in Florida, McClellan stayed out of the limelight, saying he wanted last Friday's final on-camera turn at the White House podium to be his swan song. He joked throughout the trip that no one should be surprised if he gave in to the temptation of the nearby beaches and suddenly disappeared from the entourage.
But he dutifully remained on hand. Once back in Washington, McClellan descended Air Force One's stairs alone, gave a broad wave and climbed into Bush's helicopter to go back the White House for his last few hours. His wife was waiting on the South Lawn with a camera to document his final walk across the South Lawn.
McClellan cleared out his West Wing quarters over the weekend and handed them over to incoming press secretary Tony Snow. Snow will hold his first televised briefing Monday.
McClellan has spent nearly two years and 10 months as Bush's chief spokesman and has worked for him since the president was Texas governor in the late 1990s.
McClellan is expected to spend some time on the speaking circuit, weigh whether to write a book and step in as an informal adviser to his mother, state comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, in her bid to run as an independent to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Perry in Texas.