President Obama’s 2012 fund-raising goal: $750 million

As he prepares to formally launch his 2012 re-election effort, President Obama has settled on a massive fund-raising goal in his bid for a second term in the White House.

Per the Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet, Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, has told top campaign donors the president plans to raise "just north" of $750 million for his 2012 re-election effort.

That figure is more than what Obama raised during the entire 2008 campaign and is a sure sign that the cost of the upcoming 2012 presidential election is likely to surpass $1 billion.

As The Ticket previously reported, Obama aides have already asked top Democratic donors to increase their giving for the 2012 campaign. While donors were asked to raise $250,000 during the entire 2008 effort, top supporters are now being pressed to raise at least $350,000 by the end of the year.

The 2012 cash goal offers further evidence that Obama, just as he did in 2008, is likely to forgo federal funding for his campaign so that he will have the ability to raise and spend as much as he wants without limits.

The figure is sure to put pressure on the field of 2012 GOP contenders, who are just beginning to ramp up their fund-raising for the campaign. Last week, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told donors he plans to raise at least $50 million for the GOP primary, alone. But Obama, who doesn't face any serious opposition in the Democratic primary, stands to get a massive head start on the campaign.

Still, GOP candidates won't be on their own. Obama aides say their massive fund-raising goal is in response to plans by so-called shadow GOP groups, like Karl Rove's American Crossroads, to spend millions of dollars targeting Obama in the upcoming election.

But Obama is getting some political backup, too. Several Democratic political groups have announced plans to raise and spend tens of millions of dollars to defend Obama and other vulnerable Dems in 2012.

The latest rumored entry is a so-called 527 political committee headed up by two former White House aides—Bill Burton, a former deputy press secretary, and Sean Sweeney, a former top aide to ex-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. As the Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold and Christi Parsons write today, the Burton group is still in the planning stages but is sure to come under attack, given Obama had previously trashed the idea of outside groups spending heavily in political campaigns.

Meanwhile, Obama is set to formally launch his re-election campaign soon—possibly as soon as Monday, according to Sweet. While the early focus is sure to be on fund-raising, a big unknown is how quickly Obama will actually hit the campaign trail.

Incumbent presidents before him have traditionally waited until the summer or even the fall to begin wooing voters. But with Obama's poll numbers at new lows, this president may feel a little more urgency this year.

(Photo of Obama: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)