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It's official: President Clinton is now also Candidate Clinton.

Without fanfare, the president filed papers with the Federal Election Commission on Friday declaring himself a candidate for re-election and establishing the Clinton-Gore '96 Primary Committee Inc.The political paperwork will be followed up months from now by the showy balloons-and-bunting kickoff of Clinton's re-election campaign. But the formalities were necessary at this point so Clinton could crank up his money machine.

On Monday, Clinton is sending a letter to what press secretary Mike McCurry describes as 1 million of the president's "closest friends," inviting them to join a national steering committee for the re-election effort.

The letter doesn't expressly ask for money, but McCurry allowed that it does "conveniently" include a return envelope should supporters feel moved to contribute.

In the letter, Clinton tells his supporters, "I need your partnership once again to succeed in the most challenging campaign I will ever face."

He also invokes the specter of "dangerous and shortsighted measures" by his GOP opponents in what is likely to be a recurrent campaign theme.