The departure of Gibbs as the chief spokesman has been rumored for weeks, but it was unclear whether he would stay in another job within the administration or whether he would leave the White House to work for Obama from outside.
Gibbs confirmed this morning that he will leave sometime in early February, after the president delivers his State of the Union speech to the new Congress.
No replacement has been named, but there are several candidates for the post, including deputy press secretary Bill Burton and another deputy, Josh Earnest. Jay Carney, a spokesman for Vice President Joe Biden, has also been mentioned.
As a private consultant, Gibbs will remain a top political adviser to Obama as the re-election campaign gears up. David Axelrod, a senior adviser and Jim Messina, a deputy chief of staff, are also leaving the White House to concentrate on the re-election campaign.
In a prepared statement, Obama praised his outgoing spokesman.
"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," Obama stated.
Gibbs said he will be "speaking and advising" from his new posting.
Gibbs, 39, began working for Obama in 2004.
Previously, he worked as a spokesman for Sen. John Kerry in 2003 and on several other campaigns, including that of Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina.
He was born March 29, 1971, in Auburn, Ala., and graduated from North Carolina State University. He lives in Virginia with his wife and son.
Parsons reported from Washington, and Muskal reported from Los Angeles.