Obama Begins Gearing Up Re-Election Bid

It’s going to take more than $1 billion to win the 2012 Presidential race:

The White House will announce as soon as this month the creation of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, with fund-raising likely to begin in March or early April, said officials involved in the planning.

The looming departure of three top White House officials has brought into early focus the contours of the election effort—and has surfaced concern from some Democrats that Mr. Obama is beginning too soon.

Democratic officials said the re-election campaign needs an early start to establish Mr. Obama as a formidable candidate and begin raising money for a bid expected to cost each party around $1 billion.

White House officials declined to discuss re-election efforts.

After a disastrous midterm election for his party, Mr. Obama recently has been seeking to re-establish himself as a unifying figure who can appeal to independent voters. Now, some Democratic strategists close to the White House fear the return of Mr. Obama as a candidate could harm the repositioning effort.

Moreover, some of these Democrats, who at times advise Mr. Obama’s inner circle, worry that the establishment of a campaign office in Chicago will create two power centers that may clash.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, presidential adviser David Axelrod and Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina will all leave Washington in the coming weeks to form the core of a re-election campaign, with Mr. Messina directing the effort.

Mr. Obama’s announcement that he is establishing a re-election campaign will be low-key, possibly just an email to supporters or a written statement, said a Democratic official familiar with the planning.

The president’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, began work Monday at the White House as a senior adviser, overseeing political operations, communications and message. Officials said he will serve as a bridge to the Chicago campaign.

Read more from Jonathan Weisman and Laura Meckler at WSJ

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