Wanted: $1 Billion For 2012

At the same time, Obama will have new challenges reaching out to the unprecedented base of small-dollar donors he was able to reach through the internet. In addition to trying to raise money during a much tougher economic climate, Obama will also have to generate excitement among supporters who sent him money because he was the face of change.

"Certainly he faces the loss of his bundlers, many of whom are now in the administration somewhere," said Meredith McGehee, policy director of the Campaign Legal Center. "But he also faces a base that is probably not as gung ho because he's actually had to govern. When you govern, you don't throw as much red meat to that base."

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One advantage in that effort will be the massive list of email addresses and cell phone numbers that the campaign gathered during hundreds of rallies and house parties during the course of the 2008 campaign. Another will be support from within the high-tech community, including Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who has pledged to advise the campaign, according to a top Obama supporter.

Democrats Expect 2011 Attacks in Battleground States

McGehee also noted that the President will have to raise money in a new legal environment, where outside groups now have the ability to operate free of past strictures -- often without ever revealing where their money originated. Democratic officials told ABC News they expect to spend 2011 fending off attacks in key battleground states from groups such as the Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads.

If Wednesday's crowd was any sign, though, there will still be no shortage of people to line up for the job of corralling hundreds of thousands of dollars for the president's re-election bid.

During the event, Obama did not discuss his fundraising challenges, but instead used it as an opportunity to rally his troops, according to several who attended.

The more pointed message came later, in smaller dinners around Washington that included access to other top Democrats, and follow-up talks from Kaine. Guests were advised that admission to the National Finance Committee involved raising $350,000 for the party and a separate White House victory fund by the end of 2011.

Still, those ready to sign up stood in long lines that snaked through the cavernous lobby of the Washington, D.C., hotel.

DNC officials staffing the event estimated that 480 people attended. They classified many of those in the room as "potential supporters" -- new recruits for a massive undertaking that is all too familiar to those seeking the White House.

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