White House senior adviser David Axelrod confirmed Thursday that he will leave Washington next year to work on President Obama's re-election campaign, becoming the latest official in the president's inner circle to set the stage for an exit.
Axelrod, one of the president's closest and most trusted advisers, was expected to leave at some point after the approaching midterm elections, though it wasn't clear whether he would return to private life. He said in an e-mail to Fox News that he will transition, once again, to campaign mode in 2011.
"I'll be here well into 2011," he wrote. "At some point, I'll leave to work on reelect."
Though Axelrod says he will continue to work for the president, only in a different role, his looming exit is compounded by the potential departure of another Obama confidante. White House sources say Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel could leave as early as October, as he mulls whether to run for Chicago mayor.
Sources say Emanuel has not yet made a decision about leaving the White House. One source said his family just moved to Washington, with his kids just starting school three weeks ago, and that family concerns may be involved in the decision-making.
But Emanuel has been meeting with key Illinois political figures since Mayor Richard Daley announced he would not seek re-election, opening up the seat.
A source close to Emanuel confirmed he met Tuesday with Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., and met Wednesday with Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill. He also met last week with Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill. All three are considered possible candidates for the job.
The Obama administration has plans in place should Emanuel leave -- senior adviser Pete Rouse would become the likely interim chief of staff.
In addition, a host of economic advisers have left or announced their departures.
Larry Summers, director of the National Economic Council, confirmed Tuesday he would leave at the end of the year to return to Harvard University as a professor.
Economic adviser Christina Romer also recently returned to academia in California, after White House budget chief Peter Orszag made an early exit.
Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.