Obama To Close Political Office & Launch 2012 Campaign

01/20/2011 11:59 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is stepping up his re-election bid, shifting White House staff to a campaign that will be run out of Chicago.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday that the president will soon file papers with the Federal Election Commission to formally declare his candidacy.

"We've made progress on getting the economy back in order and I think the president wants to continue to do that," Gibbs said.

Obama's chief of staff Jim Messina will leave the White House to serve as campaign manager. Messina is already looking for office space in downtown Chicago, and reaching out to potential campaign donors and consultants, administration officials said.

White House social secretary Juliana Smoot and Democratic National Committee executive director Jennifer O'Malley Dillon will serve as deputy campaign managers. Both are veterans of the 2008 campaign, with Smoot having served as finance director and Dillon focusing on battleground states.

As the campaign approaches, the White House is closing its political affairs office and moving its functions to the DNC. White House political director Patrick Gaspard will join the DNC, though Tim Kaine will continue to serve as the committee's chair.

Gibbs said dismantling the White House political wing was "a matter of duplication and efficiency that makes a lot of sense."

The developments come amid wider staff changes as the White House focuses on Obama's re-election. Senior adviser David Axelrod will join the campaign in Chicago and departing press secretary Robert Gibbs will serve as a consultant.