Robert Gibbs, President Obama's press secretary is leaving the White House. He will depart some time the President's State of the Union address on Jan. 25, the administration said today.

Gibbs, 39, a native of Alabama, joined the future President's team in 2004, when Obama ran for the U.S. Senate and became his presidential campaign spokesman in 2008.

Gibbs will reportedly continue to support the administration and speak for it in the media. A successor has not yet been named.

 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, Obama said in a release.

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 said.

Prior to joining Obama, Gibbs was press secretary for John Kerry early in that Senator's unsuccessful campaign for President, leaving the Kerry camp late in 2003.

Gibbs had an easy-going manner and fairly good relationship with the press. But he drew controversy upon himself when, in August of 2010, with the elections fast approaching and the forecast looking bleak for Democrats, he used his press pulpit to voice the administration's frustration with the left wing of the Democratic Party.

Calling White House critics among progressives the professional left he said, I hear these people saying he's like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested. I mean, it's crazy.

He said left-wing critics wouldn't be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.

Gibbs soon after called his outburst inartful and said Democrats should stop fighting each other and work together.

More often he displayed a sense of humor and once famously made fun of Sarah Palin by jotting down notes on his hand, as Palin had done prior to an interview.

Gibbs lives with his wife and their son in Alexandria, Virginia.