White House press secretary Robert Gibbs is leaving his position to work as an outside adviser for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, an administration official said on Wednesday.

Gibbs is to depart in early February. A successor is to be announced within the next two weeks, the official said.

Gibbs, a close confidant of Obama's going back to his time as a U.S. senator from Illinois, has for many Americans been one of the most public faces of the White House staff while holding near-daily news briefings.

A veteran of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, Gibbs would bring an experienced hand to Obama's bid for a new term.
His departure is among several looming staff changes as Obama regroups for the second half of his four-year term and prepares to ask Americans for a second term in 2012.

White House senior adviser David Axelrod is to return to Chicago and help set up the re-election campaign after the president's State of the Union address, tentatively scheduled for January 25.

Obama is also in discussions on whether to retain Pete Rouse as White House chief of staff or bring in J.P. Morgan Chase executive William Daley for the job. Daley was U.S. commerce secretary for President Bill Clinton.