Who Will Be Next White House Press Secretary?

With Robert Gibbs' departure, the administration needs a new public face.

Jan. 27, 2011— -- No sooner did White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announce his upcoming resignation than the favorite Washington, D.C. parlor game started -- guessing who will be his replacement.

And then the Tragedy in Tucson, the visit of the Chinese president to Washington last week and the president's State of the Union address diverted the Press Corps to other matters.

But the search and vetting for a new Press Secretary have been ongoing in the White House despite the busy month. Gibbs told reporters Wednesday that he expects President Obama could announce his replacement any day now, possibly even later this week.

"I anticipate that the president is actually quite close in that," Gibbs said. "And I anticipate that I will, as I've said, probably leave around sometime in mid-February."

The job of press secretary is high-profile. Aside from the president himself there is no more visible public face of the administration. The press secretary is seen at daily on-camera briefings, serves as a liaison between the president and the press, is responsible for pushing the administration's message of the day and for defending not only the president but the administration's policies.

"It is an honor and a privilege to stand here, to work inside this building, to serve your country, to work for a president that I admire as much as President Barack Obama," Gibbs said in announcing his departure, earlier this month. "It's a remarkable privilege. It is in many ways the opportunity of a lifetime, one that I will be forever thankful and grateful for."

Who might be the next face behind the White House podium? Here is a list of some of the names that have been rumored to be in the mix as potential contenders (in alphabetical order):

Deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton, who substituted for Gibbs in more than 50 off-camera "gaggles" or briefings and has a good working relationship with White House reporters. He also has a good relationship with the president, serving as his national press secretary during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Vice President Biden's current Communications Director, Jay Carney. Carney joined the administration in 2009 after being the Washington bureau chief for Time Magazine.

Stephanie Cutter, a veteran communications aide currently serving as Assistant to the President for Special Projects.

Josh Earnest, also a Deputy White House press secretary in the administration, who held communications roles during the president's campaign, heading the Presidential Inaugural Committee and the Iowa communications office.

Karen Finney, former Democratic National Committee spokeswoman. When asked on MSNBC about the job earlier this month, Finney played coy. "I have no idea what you're talking about," she said, smiling.

Jennifer Psaki, Deputy White House Communications Director. Psaki has a long history working with Mr. Obama, serving as a deputy press secretary during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Will It Be a Woman?

Amy Siskind, president and co-founder of The New Agenda, a women's advocacy group, says the administration's inner circle is almost all male, which she calls troubling.

"Many of us, including myself ,who are lifelong Democrats are really discouraged by the president," Siskind said. "I hope a woman gets it."

But Siskind said she fears that a woman could be appointed for the optics of the choice. The White House would benefit from a woman in a public, powerful role within the administration, she said, but only if she is given the tools to survive and succeed in that role.

"I'm very concerned that they would send her out to slaughter," she said if a woman was chosen mostly for the sake of appearances.

Dana Perino, press secretary to President George W. Bush, says that if the White House is considering choosing a woman, it should take a little message management to make sure that people know why she was chosen.

"If they do choose a woman, they don't want to diminish her accomplishment right out of the gate with some who'll think she was chosen just because of her gender," Perino told ABC News.

In a long line of male press secretaries, there have only been two women in the role: Dee Dee Myers, serving under President Bill Clinton and Perino.

Working Friends?

Robert Gibbs first started working with Mr. Obama when he was still a Senator, making him not only a valued spokesperson over the years, rising with Obama's power, but a trusted advisor and friend of the president. The future White House press secretary may not have such a relationship at first.

"I do think I have, because I've been here so long with him -- or have been with him so long, that there is a uniqueness to that," Gibbs said of his relationship with the commander-in-chief.

Press secretaries over the years have had to strike a balance. They are often not just the official spokesperson; they are friends and informal advisors to the president, much as Gibbs has been.

President Carter's press secretary, Jody Powell, served dueling roles in the 1970s. He and Carter were friends – even bunking together during grueling nights on the campaign.

George H.W. Bush's press secretary, Marlin Fitzwater, dined with the president and his wife often at the White House and on the road.

But a close friendship with the president does not always lead to job security as a press secretary.Dee Dee Myers, the longtime press secretary for President Clinton, was let go, replaced by a more savvy spokesman, Mike McCurry, in Clinton's second term.

There have been only a small handful of press secretaries brought on staff to just be a spokesman, most recently Tony Snow, who was a conservative pundit hired as President George W. Bush's third press secretary.

Gibbs says that he doesn't think anyone would appoint his successor without granting the person the ability to find out the answers properly for press, whether that is to go see the chief of staff, the senior advisors, or the president or the vice president when they needed to.

"It's important to be able to walk into his office and say, 'Sir, I need to get your opinion on this,'" Gibbs said.

Finding the right balance, and cultivating a natural friendship and trust that comes from the role is an important one – one that might be easier to achieve with someone already working within the gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

"This is a tough place to work," Gibbs said last week, knowing that being chosen is likely the easy part of the job.

ABC's Ann Compton contributed to this report.