Gibbs stepping down as White House press secretary

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It's official: Robert Gibbs is leaving his post as White House press secretary.

One of President Obama's most seasoned and trusted advisers, Gibbs tells the New York Times' Jeff Zeleny that he will leave the podium in early February to lend outside assistance to the president's re-election campaign. He broke the news to this staff at a meeting earlier Wednesday morning.

No successor has been named, but Gibbs says a successor should be in place within two weeks. Among the names bandied about lately as a replacement: Deputy Press Secretaries Bill Burton and Josh Earnest, as well as Vice President Joe Biden's spokesman, Jay Carney.

[Rewind: Gibbs' bold move during Obama's India visit]

This will be a major season of transition for the Obama White House on the eve of the president's 2012 re-election bid. In coming weeks, David Axelrod, the president's longtime political adviser, will exit the White House to work for the campaign. Gibbs and Axelrod have worked for Obama dating back to his 2004 run for Senate. Axelrod will be replaced by David Plouffe, who ran Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

At the same time, Obama is looking for a new chief of staff. Rahm Emanuel quit in October to run for mayor of Chicago, and Pete Rouse (who had been Obama's chief of staff in the Senate) temporarily stepped in but reportedly doesn't want the job permanently. The president is said to be eyeing Bill Daley, President Clinton's former Commerce secretary.

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