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Obama Spokesman Gibbs To Leave White House

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs talks about his decision to step down and other personnel swaps  coming to the Obama Administration, during a press briefing at the White House, 5 Jan 2011
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs talks about his decision to step down and other personnel swaps coming to the Obama Administration, during a press briefing at the White House, 5 Jan 2011

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, a trusted adviser to President Barack Obama, will step down.  This is one of several staff changes expected in the Obama administration.  

Robert Gibbs has been Mr. Obama's spokesman and a key adviser since his 2004 campaign for the U.S. Senate.  Gibbs announced Wednesday he will soon leave the administration.

"I had the opportunity to work for this president, serve this country, work with so many wonderful friends and be in the middle of what is going on.  It has been a tremendous honor," he said.

Gibbs will, however, continue working with the president as an outside adviser and a paid consultant to his 2012 re-election campaign.

"What I am going to do next is step back a little bit and recharge some. We have been going at this pace for at least four years," said Gibbs. "I will have an opportunity, I hope, to give some speeches. I will continue to provide advice and counsel to this building and to this president."

President Obama, in a written statement, called Gibbs a close friend, one of his closest advisers and an effective advocate.

Gibbs is expected to leave early in February.  He says his replacement should be named in the coming weeks.

Two possible successors are deputy press secretary Bill Burton and Vice President Joe Biden's communication's director, Jay Carney.  Administration officials say they will also consider candidates from outside the White House.

Other changes are expected soon in the West Wing.  Mr. Obama will introduce a new director of the National Economic Council on Friday, replacing Larry Summers, who stepped down late last year.

The president's senior adviser, David Axelrod, announced earlier that he would leave, and Gibbs says longtime Obama political adviser David Plouffe will take his place next Monday.

Also, a permanent White House chief of staff may be named in the next few days.  Interim chief of staff Pete Rouse and former Clinton administration Commerce Secretary William Daley have been mentioned as likely candidates.

Gibbs said Wednesday it is not unusual for presidential administrations to undergo staff changes after two years in office.

"I think in many ways, this is a pretty major retooling.  But again, part of this is based on the fact that there are a lot of us who just feel like we need a little bit of a break," Gibbs said.

Gibbs is a 39-year-old native of the Southern state of Alabama.  He is known for his carefully worded responses to questions and his willingness to debate with reporters about administration policies.  

Gibbs is the first presidential press secretary to post updates on the social network Twitter, and he has made frequent use of Facebook as well.

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