White House beard meets razor's edge

WASHINGTON Fri Jan 24, 2014 3:28pm EST

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks to the press in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, January 6, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks to the press in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, January 6, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The most tweeted-about beard in the Obama White House left the way it came in - with wisecracks.

"Here I am, the old me," a clean-shaven White House spokesman Jay Carney said at the start of his daily briefing with reporters on Friday. His announcement was greeted with laughter.

Carney debuted the beard to an amused - and not entirely complimentary - press corps on January 6, after a two-week holiday break from television cameras.

Carney said his wife liked it - but she appeared to be in a razor-thin majority.

His boss, President Barack Obama, razzed him about it, as did any number of other White House officials. Even deputy press secretary Jamie Smith's mother registered her disapproval and was pleased at the new, improved Carney.

There was applause and a couple of cheers in the press room when a fresh-faced Carney returned on Friday.

"Let's just say you're not the only ones," Carney remarked.

Carney said he was discouraged from his hirsute pursuits by Obama's speechwriter, Cody Keenan, whose much denser beard has been featured in photos on the White House website in the lead-up to Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday.

"If you've seen Cody Keenan's beard, you know that I have a daily reminder of the insufficiency of my efforts," Carney told reporters.

"I decided that the time had come to shave."

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Steve Holland; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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