Top Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer to step down: White House

US President Barack Obama talks with senior advisers Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod (second right), and director of communications Dan Pfeiffer (right), in the Oval Office, in this White House handout photograph taken on May 21, 2010. -- PHOTO: REUTE
US President Barack Obama talks with senior advisers Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod (second right), and director of communications Dan Pfeiffer (right), in the Oval Office, in this White House handout photograph taken on May 21, 2010. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Barack Obama's top communications adviser and a longtime member of his inner circle, Dan Pfeiffer, is stepping down from his post in March, the White House said on Wednesday.

Pfeiffer has advised Obama since the 2008 presidential campaign and is one of the last of the President's close confidants from that period to be leaving his immediate orbit.

"Like everyone else in the White House, I've benefited from his political savvy and his advocacy for working people," Obama said in a statement.

"He's a good man and a good friend, and I'm going to miss having him just down the hall from me."

Pfeiffer served as White House deputy communications director and communications director before taking on the title of senior adviser.

He is fond of sparring with reporters on Twitter and has spearheaded the administration's effort to use social media to spread its message, sometimes seeking to bypass traditional news organisations in the process.

Obama has been criticised routinely for relying too much on an insular group of advisers, many of whom stemmed from his Chicago-based campaign.

But communication gurus such as David Axelrod and David Plouffe, who both spent stints in the White House after helping get him elected, have long since moved on.

Pfeiffer has experienced some health difficulties in recent years, including stroke-like symptoms.

He informed the President about his decision to leave last month, a White House official said, and had been thinking about it for a long time.