WASHINGTON (AP) - Call the caterer, and fuel up Air Force One. President Barack Obama is launching an intense fundraising push for Democrats that will take him to more than a half-dozen states before the end of the year.
In all, Obama has scheduled at least nine fundraisers from Florida to Texas to California, and first lady Michelle Obama plans a 10th event. Benefiting from the presidential appearances will be the national Democratic Party, plus the campaign committees that raise money for Democratic House and Senate candidates.
Vice President Joe Biden is also expected to raise money for Democratic candidates.
For weeks, as the federal government was shut down and the U.S. edged perilously close to a first-ever default on its debt, the White House put political activities on hold. Biden and Mrs. Obama canceled or postponed fundraisers for Democrats, and Obama nixed an appearance at the glitzy Congressional Hispanic Caucus gala.
The overwhelming partisanship and gridlock that led to the shutdown made it clearer than ever that Obama's prospects for achieving his goals during his final years in office depend heavily on Democrats making major gains in next year's midterm elections.
With the budget crisis averted - at least for the moment - Obama is diving head-first into a six-week stretch of top-dollar receptions, dinners and photo lines that will bring in campaign cash for Democrats ahead of the 2014.
The Democratic National Committee is still retiring debt it racked up last year getting Obama re-elected. And campaign committees want to stock their coffers now to improve their prospects of retaking control of the House next year and maintaining their fragile majority in the Senate.
Obama's first post-shutdown fundraiser will come Friday, when Obama will travel to New York to promote high-tech education at a Brooklyn high school before raising money in the evening.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Steve Israel, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, will join Obama at the first event. An invitation obtained by The Associated Press says it costs $16,200 per person to attend the event, hosted by Kathryn Chenault - the wife of American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault - and two other prominent Democratic donors.
Later that evening, Obama will raise money for the DNC, and Mrs. Obama will appear at the Women's Leadership Forum in Washington - another fundraiser for the DNC.
Pelosi and Israel at his side, Obama will headline two other fundraisers for House Democrats this year - one next week outside Boston, and one in late November in the Seattle area. In between, he'll fly to Dallas, Miami and Philadelphia for events for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said a Democratic source, who demanded anonymity because the White House has not yet announced the events.
Obama will round out the fundraising swing in late November in California, where he'll raise money for the DNC in San Francisco and hold a joint event for House and Senate Democrats in Los Angeles.