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Obama to raise $1M in Florida for Democratic campaigns

President Barack Obama makes an opening statement during his joint news conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Thursday, March 3, 2011, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
President Barack Obama
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais


MIAMI -- For President Obama, the 2012 campaign begins today.

In Miami this afternoon and evening, he'll be appearing at two Democratic fundraisers, the first such events to draw his participation in the 2012 political cycle.

At an event at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, and another at a private residence, Mr. Obama will help raise a million dollars to be split between the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the re-election campaign of Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

A DSCC spokesman expects 500 people to attend the two events.

Mr. Obama hasn't done a fundraising event since October 25th last year, when he appeared at two of them in Rhode Island to benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the state Democratic Victory fund.

Those were the president's final political money events of the 2010 campaign cycle which proved to be a blow to Mr. Obama, who admits he took "a shellacking" as Democrats lost their majority in the House and seats in the Senate.

Our CBS News tally shows that during the 2010 cycle, Mr. Obama did 97 political fundraisers generating nearly $96 million dollars for the Democratic Party, its campaign committees and candidates.

To amortize the cost of flying the president to Miami for today's fundraisers, the White House scheduled an official policy event as well. It was arranged for the president to visit Miami Central High School, long-deemed a failing school that is showing signs of turning around with the help of $785,000 in Special Improvement Grants from the U.S. Department of Education. To show the visit was non-partisan, it was arranged for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, to accompany Mr. Obama on the school visit.

By doing an "official" event during the same trip as political fundraisers, the costs the DSCC and the Nelson campaign must pay to reimburse the government for Mr. Obama's trip to Miami is significantly reduced, although the White House has yet to disclose the formula it uses to arrive at the amounts to be reimbursed.

Mr. Obama's predecessors all engaged in the same practice of scheduling "official" events to offset the costs of travelling to political fundraisers.

Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/markknoller.

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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.