By Eric Johnson
CHICAGO (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's campaign set a goal of raising $60 million in the fourth quarter of the year to benefit the Democratic incumbent's re-election and the Democratic National Committee, a campaign official said on Saturday.
Obama's campaign, together with the Democratic National Committee, had raised roughly $155 million through the end of September.
If it reaches its goal for the fourth quarter, the campaign will surpass $200 million in fundraising for 2011.
Obama is not expected to attend fundraising events between now and the end of the year, the campaign official said. He headlined about 15 campaign fundraising events in the fourth quarter.
"Enthusiasm for the White House's policies has been steadily increasing and it will keep increasing," said Steven Cohen, a major contributor and campaign fundraiser based in Chicago.
Cohen pointed to Obama's push for an extension of a payroll tax cut while House of Representatives Republicans stonewalled, describing this as a policy that has helped middle-class voters contrast the president with his Republican challengers.
"Among the people who I have talked to . they are seeing a real demonstration of the president's commitment to stand his ground," Cohen said.
Overall, the campaign seeks to raise more than $750 million to boost Obama's bid for a second term in the White House.
The campaign on December 20 launched a joint fundraising committee to benefit the Democratic Party in 11 all-important "swing states," - such as Florida, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania - where voting is expected to be close next year, and costs are expected to be high.
The campaign brought in $70 million in the third quarter, topping its $55 million goal. But fundraisers said they were stifled by the protracted congressional debt talks this summer, which led Obama to cancel top-dollar fundraisers around the country.
The campaign, which formally started in April, raised $86 million in the second quarter.
The 2012 election is due to be the priciest ever with Obama expected to raise more than his record $750 million from 2008. And newly relaxed fundraising laws will add hundreds of millions of dollars from "super political action committees," officially deemed separate from campaigns, even when devoted to electing particular candidates.
(Editing by Bill Trott)