April 2, 2011— -- President Obama is on the verge of making a very important announcement -- one that we all probably could have predicted -- that he wants to keep his job as leader of the free world.
Obama is expected to send an e-mail message to supporters as early as next week and file his official papers with the Federal Election Commission, effectively announcing his re-election bid, unidentified Democratic officials who are familiar with the president's plans said Saturday.
The timing makes sense, as Obama has a large fundraiser scheduled in Chicago in a week and a half. The president also managed to raise $1.5 million at a fundraiser held in New York City last week.
Some believe that Obama, who has a true knack for raising election money, may cross the threshold and could become the first $1 billion presidential candidate.
During his 2008 election campaign, Obama managed to raise a whopping $750 million.
Meanwhile, a laundry list of Republicans, from governors to former governors, senators and television personalities are laying the groundwork for a possible presidential bid.
There are plenty of "potential" Republican candidates already being touted in the media -- though not one has officially declared that he or she will take on the incumbent. This has given everyone from Donald Trump to Michele Bachmann plenty of attention.
And some Republicans have even said they are afraid to step up to the plate.
"They are saying that they're afraid, publicly," ABC News Political Director Amy Walter said. "When you're the one candidate who has the Republican label on, everybody starts throwing darts at you."
Obama's re-election odds got a bit of a boost on Friday when it was announced that the March unemployment rate fell to 8.8 percent, the lowest level in two years, and that the economy added 216,000 jobs last month.
Meanwhile, Obama is focusing on the job at hand, drawing attention to this week's good news while dealing with several explosive crises overseas. His staff, however, may be working on fundraising and messaging efforts for the 2012 bid.
According to The Associated Press, Obama intends to stay out of the fray until Republicans settle on a candidate next spring. But exactly who that will be is the billion-dollar question.
"They're not going to be able to compete, money-wise. No one wants to go up against a president whose campaign is talking about raising $1 billion," Walter said today.
If this all seems to be moving in slow-motion compared to the 2008 election, that may be because it is.
By April 2, 2007, towards the beginning of the last presidential campaign, six Democrats and five Republicans had already thrown their hats into the ring.
Of course in the 2008 election there was no incumbent to contend with.
By comparison, however, Bill Clinton -- the last Democratic incumbent to run for re-election -- filed his papers on nearly the same date that the president is expected to.