WASHINGTON -- President Obama will register with the Federal Election Commission as a 2012 re-election candidate as early as Monday, I've learned, clearing the way for what may be the biggest campaign fund-raising drive in the nation's history -- not counting Obama-allied independent fund-raising in the works.
Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan told me Thursday, "No decision has been made," but I've heard from a campaign insider that the papers will be quietly filed in a few days, with more of a kickoff -- via an Obama video and-or text message -- to come later.
The FEC registration means the Obama team may start collecting contributions for the Obama 2012 Victory fund, which is being established.
Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina has been previewing strategies with megadonors in Washington at DNC meetings last month and last Monday night in Chicago, when he headlined an event for Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) donors. The Obama 2012 national headquarters will be in Chicago's Prudential Building.
Messina has been telling the elite donor ranks Obama will have to raise "north of $750 million," a reference to the amount raised for 2008 -- and the $1 billion the Obama money machine may need for 2012.
Messina has been saying he is worried that outside GOP allied groups -- especially ones that GOP strategist Karl Rove advises -- will be running ads early on.
Earlier in March, a Rove-advised group, Crossroads GPS, spent $750,000 in one-week for an anti-union national cable buy slamming Obama. These early spots will be Obama hits masquerading as "issue" ads, trying to soften up Obama while the many GOP presidential contenders fight it out in their primaries.
Because of the outside money threat, the Obama team, which discouraged independent spending for Obama in 2008, is open to it in 2012. Two trusted former White House staffers are exploring creation of such a group to counter Rove: Sean Sweeney, who was chief of staff for Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel when he was Obama's chief of staff, and former deputy press secretary Bill Burton.
As I've reported, Obama will be in Chicago on April 14 for fund-raising launch events; he will hit Los Angeles and San Francisco on April 20-21 and New York at the end of the month. In Chicago, Obama will be joined by other VIPs from his team; there will be lower-dollar events for the DNC's "Gen44" group and a $35,800-a-person dinner, with proceeds shared with the DNC. DNC Finance Chair Rufus Gifford -- to be the Obama 2012 finance chief -- was to hold a "host committee" call on Thursday for the Chicago ramp-up.