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Carney named White House press secretary

WASHINGTON – Jay Carney, currently the spokesman for Vice President Joe Biden, will replace Robert Gibbs as President Barack Obama’s press secretary, the White House announced Thursday.

A former journalist who spent 20 years at Time magazine, Carney, 45, joined the Obama administration two years ago as communications director for the vice president. His elevation is part of a White House overhaul that has seen several other West Wing staffers promoted, as well as the departures of key aides David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel.

Earlier this month, Gibbs, who has worked for Obama since 2004 and who has – other than the president – served as the White House’s most prominent public face during the first two years of Obama’s presidency, announced he would be leaving to join the private sector, while still advising Obama’s re-election campaign.

The White House may view Carney, who enjoys good relations with many members of the Washington press corps from his years as a member, as the right person to court the national media during Obama’s re-election campaign. The appointment also signals Biden’s growing influence within the West Wing. Longtime Biden cohort Thomas Donilon became Obama’s national security adviser in October.

As part of the staff shuffle, veteran strategist Stephanie Cutter will take on a new role as an aide to senior adviser David Plouffe, while Nancy-Ann DeParle, who has headed the White House’s efforts on health care reform, and Alyssa Mastromonaco, the current director of scheduling, will become deputies to new Chief of Staff William Daley.

Carney beat out White aides Bill Burton and Jen Psaki, as well as longtime Democratic operative Karen Finney, among others, for the press secretary position.