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As Robert Gibbs steps down as the voice of the Obama administration, the speculation turns to who will replace him.

But he’ll continue to appear in the media as an outside voice defending the White House, something that will be more important as they head to 2012.

John Dickerson of Slate sees confusion ahead.

“There will always be a question as to whether Gibbs is speaking for the president. This will get confusing and cause headaches for Gibbs’ successor.

“It’s not just Gibbs who will make things confusing. White House adviser David Axelrod is an important voice for the president. He’s also leaving but not (really) leaving. He’ll be in Chicago working on Obama’s re-election. David Plouffe, meanwhile, the former Obama campaign manager, is headed in to the White House. He also can be an effective voice for the president. If former Commerce Secretary William Daley becomes the chief of staff, he too will be a spokesman for the president. (Pete Rouse, the interim chief of staff, doesn’t play that role.) When the campaign gets under way, there will also probably be another official spokesman for the Obama campaign.”