Robert Gibbs: ‘Jeopardy!’ way more nerve-racking than being press secretary

The White House press corps has got nothing on “Jeopardy!”

Robert Gibbs would know. President Obama’s former White House press secretary can now add “Jeopardy!” contestant to his résumé. Gibbs told ITK that compared to his old gig fielding questions from feisty reporters, “This is much more nerve-racking.”

The ex-spokesman is one of 15 D.C. VIPs who dared to put their minds on the line as the “Jeopardy!” Power Players week rolled into Washington on Saturday at DAR Constitution Hall.

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But Gibbs, who faced the formidable duo of MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews and CNN’s Lizzie O’Leary in one of the five shows taped, said he didn’t call up the president for any pointers: “No, I would be too nervous to talk to him about that.”

As if answering questions in front of a packed audience wasn’t pressure enough, big money was also up for grabs, with the winners of each game earning a minimum of $50,000 for the charity of their choice. The rest of the contestants received $10,000 for their causes.

Longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek said any partisan mudslinging from the largely political group of players (which also included New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, NBC News’s Kelly O’Donnell and Chuck Todd, “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, among others) would likely be kept to a minimum in the name of charity: “They’re not here to spout their favorite theories and throw darts at the opposition, they’re here to win money for their charities and win money for their clues.”

While Gibbs may have been battling butterflies ahead of his game, Dana Perino wasn’t shaking in her five-inch (!) black heels as she faced off against her sky-high competitor, ex-NBA star and Global Cultural Ambassador Kareem Abdul-

Jabbar, and CNBC’s David Faber.

The former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush said, “When I left the White House in January 2009, I remember saying to my husband on my last day, nothing I ever do in my life will ever be as hard as being White House press secretary. And that has proven to be true. But this is pretty nerve-racking.”

But the Fox News personality admitted she didn’t want to pile on pressure by sharing the news of her “Jeopardy!” appearance with her old boss and the former first lady: “I thought maybe I’d tell them afterwards, though — then I can tell them how I did. I didn’t need more pressure from President Bush.”

“Jeopardy!” fans will have to wait to see who came out on top in the D.C. showdown. Power Players week airs starting May 14.