President Obama made it official this morning (in a quick phoner with the NYT) ending all the heated speculation and huffing and barking -- press secretary Robert Gibbs will leave the White House to work on the 2012 re-election campaign. Per the NYT:

“We’ve been on this ride together since I won my Senate primary in 2004,” Mr. Obama said. “He’s had a six-year stretch now where basically he’s been going 24/7 with relatively modest pay. I think it’s natural for someone like Robert to want to step back for a second to reflect, retool and that, as a consequence, brings about both challenges and opportunities for the White House.”

The White House doesn't seem to have figured out who will take over for Gibbs at the podium. Contenders include deputy press secretary Bill Burton (the people's choice) and Jay Carney, a veteran Washington journalist and spokesman for Vice President Joe Biden. But that's not even entirely clear.

The NYT says Gibbs will split in early February. Hmmm. Will there be a party?