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Published: Jan 5, 2011
White House Prepares For Staff Exits
by Staff

A number of White House staff changes could be announced as early as Friday, senior Democratic officials close to the process said.

President Obama has winnowed contenders for the White House chief of staff -- replacing Rahm Emmanuel who returned to Chicago to run for mayor -- to interim boss Pete Rouse and former Clinton Commerce Secretary William Daley, two officials told CNN Wednesday.

The sources said Obama wants to settle on a permanent chief of staff soon as more White House denizens, such as press secretary Robert Gibbs, prepare to depart.

The Washington Post reported Gibbs began telling colleagues Wednesday he was leaving.

Senior Democratic aides said Gibbs could take another senior post inside the White House but more likely will move to the private sector to become a spokesman and strategist, eventually landing in Obama's re-election campaign office in Chicago, CNN said.

The leading contenders to replace Gibbs are current deputy spokesman Bill Burton and Jay Carney, a former journalist who is communications director for Vice President Joe Biden.

"That's a choice that will need to be made quickly," one senior Democratic official told CNN.

Obama likely will name former Clinton official Gene Sperling, now a U.S. Treasury Department counselor, to replace Larry Summers as chairman of the National Economic Council, aides said.

Officials said Obama wants to shore up his staff quickly as the 112th Congress begins with a Republican House and more GOP senators, and so he can focus on his State of the Union address. (c) UPI

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