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The announcement was not a surprise. Axelrod, one of the president's most trusted advisers, has always said his assignment in Washington was temporary. His wife still lives in Chicago and he travels back to his hometown often.
It's unclear whether he would return to private life after the 2012 elections.
Axelrod is the latest member of the White House to announce his departure. On Tuesday senior economic adviser Lawrence Summers said he will step down at the end of the year to return to academia. Obama's director of the Office of Management and Budget, Peter Orszag, and Christina Romer, the head of the Council of Economic Advisers, stepped down earlier this summer.
And there's speculation that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel could soon leave to run for mayor of Chicago.
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