Jim Messina to leave White House Friday
Friday will be deputy chief of staff Jim Messina's final day at the White House as he begins the formal transition to his role as campaign manager for President Obama's reelection race, according to an Administration source briefed on the matter.
Messina will spend next week traveling the country on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and then will head to Africa for several weeks of vacation. Messina is expected to move to Chicago to lead Obama's 2012 effort in early March.
The Messina move has been long expected and was part of a major staff re-shuffle that the Administration announced last week.
Messina will be joined in Chicago by DNC executive director Jen O'Malley Dillon and Social Secretary Julianna Smoot, both of whom will serve as deputy campaign managers.
Patrick Gaspard, who is currently the political director at the White House, will transfer over to O'Malley Dillon's role at the DNC on March 1.
The changes signal that the President is beginning to gear up in earnest for the 2012 campaign even as the field of Republican challengers remains remarkably unformed.
The work of the early months of the Obama reelection effort will almost certainly focus heavily on fundraising. In 2008, Obama collected $750 million and there is already considerable speculation that he could be the first presidential candidate in history to raise more than $1 billion.
Al Kamen contributed to this report.