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Obama team plans for 2011 – and for 2012

Obama and his senior staff are hard at work on the size and shape of his White House team as they prepare for the 2012 elections. He hopes to spend more time outside of Washington.

By Staff Writer / December 26, 2010

President Barack Obama makes a Christmas Day visit with service members at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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President Obama may be enjoying some Christmas down time with his family in Hawaii, but he and his senior staff are hard at work on the size and shape of his White House team as they prepare for the 2012 elections – just around the corner in terms of what it takes to win a second term.

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Expect some new faces in prominent administration positions, including a new National Economic Director to replace Larry Summers. Defense Secretary Robert Gates – a highly-respected Republican holdover from the Bush administration – can be expected to leave as well.

"I think that it would be a mistake to wait until January 2012," Gates told Foreign Policy magazine in August. "This is not the kind of job you want to fill in the spring of an election year."

Important changes already have been made. Austan Goolsbee has replaced Christina Romer as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors. The White House chief of staff is no longer the hard-charging Rahm Emanuel but the quieter Pete Rouse. Peter Orszag left as head of the Office of Management and Budget, replaced by Jacob Lew.

So at this point, officials say, don’t expect across-the-board replacements in administration staff.

"I don't expect quite honestly big changes,” press secretary Robert Gibbs said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “I think we've had a very capable and good Cabinet that has helped move the president's agenda forward.”

In 2011, Obama can be expected to spend much more time politicking outside of Washington, aides say.

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