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Robert Gibbs to leave White House

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will leave the White House -- not just his position as press secretary.

His official departure will be after the State of the Union. No successor has been named, and that search may be expanded if a new chief of staff -- potentially ex-Commerce Secretary Bill Daley -- is named before the end of the week as some administration aides expect.

As for Gibbs, he'll continue to work for the president but as an outside consultant, essentially setting up the Washington-arm of the Obama re-election campaign. David Axelrod, who will be leaving the West Wing around the same time, will be setting up the Chicago-arm of the Obama re-election campaign.

*** UPDATE *** Here's the president's statement on Gibbs:

"For the last six years, Robert has been a close friend, one of my closest advisers and an effective advocate from the podium for what this administration has been doing to move America forward. 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 - but it doesn't change the important role that Robert will continue to play on our team."