Obama lauds Earnest during final press briefing

President Obama made a surprise appearance in the White House press room on Tuesday to thank press secretary Josh Earnest during his final briefing with reporters.

Obama entered through the sliding door next to the briefing podium after Earnest’s introductory remarks and heaped praise on his longtime aide.

“I have now known this guy for 10 years, almost. I have watched him grow and I have watched him advance,” Obama said. “And he has never disappointed. He's always been the guy you wanted him to be."

Out of the many people who have worked for Obama over the past decade, “this guy ranks as high as just about anybody I’ve worked with,” the president said of Earnest. “He is a really, really good man.”

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The spokesman’s face turned red as the president spoke and the two shook hands and hugged after Obama wrapped up his remarks.

Earnest first joined the Obama campaign as a press aide in Iowa during his 2008 presidential run. He has worked in the White House press shop since Obama’s first day in office and was picked as Jay Carney’s replacement in May 2014.

The James A. Brady Press Briefing Room was packed with current and former Obama White House aides who were on hand to watch Earnest's final briefing.

They erupted in applause after Obama spent several minutes lauding Earnest.

The president also teased his spokesman for his boyish looks and his last name, which he said was fitting.

“He just got all that all-American matinee good-looking thing going on,” he said. “That’s helpful; let’s face it.

“And then the guy’s name is Josh Earnest, which, if someone is speaking on your behalf, is a pretty good name to have.”

During a lengthy, nostalgic reflection on his career, Earnest thanked the president and his staff for their support.

“It’s been an extraordinary journey,” the spokesman said.

“He never second-guessed me, not once,” he said of Obama. “He had my back every single day, and I am grateful for it.”

Earnest became choked up when thanking his wife, Natalie, who was six months pregnant when Obama offered him the job of press secretary.

He also reflected on the times his words got him in trouble.

“President-elect [Donald] Trump, of course, took the opportunity to light me up as a foolish guy,” he said. “And I have to admit that even that one made me laugh.”

— This report was updated at 12:48 p.m.