Updated: 12:32 p.m.
It’s official, though not a surprise: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is stepping down in early February.
Gibbs will become a political adviser to the president and his re-election campaign. A successor has yet to be named, but names in the running include Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton and Vice President Joseph Biden’s communications director, Jay Carney.
Obama praised Gibbs’ work as his spokesman and close adviser over the past six years.
“I think it’s natural for him to want to step back, reflect and retool. That brings up some challenges and opportunities for the White House,” he said in a statement. “But it doesn’t change the important role that Robert will continue to play on our team.”
News of Gibbs' departure comes amid a buzz of other impending staff changes at the White House. Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe is expected to arrive at the White House early next week. Gene Sperling, an adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, is expected to be named economic adviser soon, although the timing is in flux. Obama Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina is also expected to head to Chicago to become Obama's campaign manager. And Bill Daley, brother of outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, has been all the talk this week as a leading candidate for Obama's chief of staff.
Biden Chief of Staff Ron Klain announced Monday that he is leaving to become president of Case Holdings, the holding company of AOL co-founder Steve Case.