Gibbs to leave White House, advise Obama re-election bid


WASHINGTONWhite House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that he’ll leave his post at month’s end to become a
private consultant but will continue to closely advise President Barack Obama in his 2012 re-election campaign.

The departure of Gibbs, 39, a member of Obama’s
tight inner circle, comes at the midpoint of the president’s first
term, a natural transition time for exhausted staff in high burnout

Obama is in the process of making several staffing
changes to refresh his team and retool his strategy to face new
realities including the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives.
He also is contending with lingering unemployment, a disheartened
liberal base that Gibbs personally played a role in angering with his
dismissive criticism of the “professional left,” and an overall
electorate that’s less enthusiastic about Obama than it was when it
elected him.

At the same time, Gibbs has been a close confidant
to Obama, as much an adviser as a mouthpiece, and has been with Obama
since his U.S. Senate campaign.

“It’s always hard, but it’s the right time for me to
step back and recharge ahead of the next couple years,” Gibbs said in
an interview in his office before a meeting with the president.

Gibbs said he will “predominantly” advise Obama
between now and the re-election but also expects to spend time on the
paid speaking circuit, talking about the White House and Washington.
Gibbs said he also is looking forward to being able to take his young
son to school more often in the mornings. He said he has not yet chosen
a name for his firm, but that it will be independent of Obama advisers David Axelrod and David Plouffe’s firm.

In the coming days, the president also is expected to name a new economic adviser and a permanent chief of staff to replace Rahm Emanuel, who left last fall to run for mayor of Chicago. Gibbs’ replacement, who has not yet been named, is expected to start in February.

Candidates could include one of Gibbs’ deputies, and Obama’s advisers also have discussed Vice President Joe Biden’s communications director Jay Carney, a former magazine journalist.


(c) 2011, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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