President Obama may be relaxing in Hawaii, playing some golf and spending time with his family, but he's also contemplating his next few years in office and a re-election campaign that will require significant attention over the next two years. But, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs says nobody should expect a big shuffle in the White House, even as some major players depart Washington, D.C. for the anticipated campaign headquarters of Chicago.
"I don't expect quite honestly big changes. I think we've had a very capable and good cabinet that has helped move the president's agenda forward," Gibbs said Sunday on CNN.
But even if Gibbs doesn't say there will be a huge shake-up, there are a few departures already in the works which would require some changes in top positions. Larry Summers, Director of the National Economic Council, will official leave the administration at the end of this week. While there's no official replacement yet, buzz has started over Roger Altman, a former Deputy Treasury Secretary and a current Wall Street investment banker. In addition to Summers, Senior Adviser David Axelrod will transition to the campaign some time this year while former 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe will come to the White House. And, it's been rumored that Gibbs himself will move to the re-election campaign with Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton or the vice president's spokesman Jay Carney potentially in line for the job of press secretary.
Regardless of the staff changes, the administration knows the next two years will be different, indicating the president will spend less time in the nation's capital and more time hitting the road, something he's said he likes to do and his close confidants say is something the president misses.
"He often says this is his biggest regret, because of the crisis, he had to spend almost every waking hour in Washington, focusing on solving the crisis and what he missed was engagement with American people," White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett told NBC.
A strategy of traveling means the president will probably hit major battle ground states like Ohio and Florida a lot in the coming year, but if republicans are salivating over a second potential "shellacking" of the democratic party, experts warn they should think twice.
"You're going to have a different, probably broader electorate in 2012 and Americans have a way of wanting their presidents to succeed. I think this worked for Mr. Obama's two predecessors-- Bill Clinton in 1996, George W. Bush in 2004-- and it could conceivably work for him again," says Michael Barone of the American Enterprise Institute.
But former Bush Administration officials say moving the campaign outside Washington, D.C. could spell some downfall for the overall selling of the president."The president is president 24 hours a day no matter whether he's running for re-election or not. And to base a campaign in Chicago, but then still be living in the White House and have his presidential staff at the White House, is going to be very complicated," says former Bush White House staffer Gordon Johndroe. "It's very difficult for people to coordinate even though you can use phones and emails and videoconferences. there's nothing like those face to face meetings that the candidate needs have with his staff from time to time."
However, Barone says he thinks Obama can overcome any potential problems, with the incumbent title pushing him forward.
"I think Americans have desire to see their incumbent presidents do well and to succeed. I think, in addition, there's a reluctance on the part of many Americans to reject the first African American president. I remember seeing focus groups and polling in the '96 cycle where people said, 'gee I want Bill Clinton to succeed'. "
Fox News White House Correspondent Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.