White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told White House staffers Wednesday morning that he will be leaving the administration and stepping down from his post as President Barack Obama’s top spokesman.
According to CNN.com, Gibbs will exit the White House following the president’s State of the Union address to Congress later this month.
The announcement spells an end to a turbulent two-year tenure often marred by snarky asides and rhetorical jousting with members of the press.
In his new role, Gibbs is expected to remain an Obama insider. He has worked with Obama since 2004 and played a key role as communications director for his 2008 presidential campaign.
Some analysts expect Gibbs to establish his o
wn consulting firm and play an active role in the 2012 presidential campaign, the Washington Post reports.
Although Gibbs, 39, often enjoyed a jocular relationship with the press, his cordially confrontational style appeared out of step at times with President Obama’s pledge of post-partisan governance.
Gibbs’ most memorable moment came when he mocked former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, by writing talking points down on the palm of his hand.
The Alabama Democrat’s departure from the White House comes as part of a larger shake-up of Obama’s staff, with a new chief of staff announcement expected later this week. More than half a dozen other staff changes could be in the works as well, sources say.
Although President Obama blamed Democrats’ midterm “shellacking” on a weak communications strategy, there was no indication that his support for Gibbs was flagging.
Analysts believe Gibbs will continue to have a prominent role outside the administration in appearing on cable TV talk shows and advocating for the president’s policies.
Observers say Gibbs and incoming Obama adviser David Plouffe may reprise the inside-outside communications strategy that was effectively employed by Paul Begala and James Carville during the Clinton administration.
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