The move, which had been expected, signals the White House is putting the pieces in place for Obama to run for reelection in 2012.

An administration official said Obama will close the White House office of political affairs, moving political director Patrick Gaspard and the political operations to the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The New York Times broke the story on Thursday.

Obama is also elevating key aides from the 2008 campaign, including deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, who will serve as campaign manager.

Two 2008 campaign deputies — Julianna Smoot, the White House social secretary, and Jennifer O'Malley Dillon, executive director of the DNC — will round out the campaign leadership team.

Fundraising and grassroots organizing for Obama’s reelection effort will start in late March, the White House official said.

The president is expected to officially file papers to run in about two months, the Times said.