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Leaders of the pack! In just a weekend, the GOP 2012 field has gelled around three major candidates: Mitt Romney, who’s been the frontrunner all along; Michele Bachmann, who made splash by coming in first in the Ames straw poll; and Rick Perry, who stole the spotlight from both when he announced his candidacy on Saturday. Missing from the lineup is Tim Pawlenty, who dropped out of the race on Sunday after finishing a distant third in the straw poll. With two of their own leading the lineup, the Tea Party is poised to be a powerful force. With its right-wing, anti-Obama, anti-compromise ethos, will there be any room on the Republican side for Romney? msnbc Political Analyst Howard Fineman and Eisenhower Institute Fellow Jennifer Donahue join us tonight to discuss.

Is Rick Perry the hero the GOP has been holding out for? With his getting in the race, buzz around the GOP’s other shining stars—Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, and Haley Barbour, to name a few—has quieted down. Is Perry the firework Presidential candidate the GOP’s hoped for, or does he run the risk of flaming out? We’ll discuss with Politico’s Jonathan Martin and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).

 

Plus: President Obama begins his bus tour through the Heartland today, with stops in Minnesota and Iowa to talk about jobs with voters. His approval ratings hit an all-time low last week, falling to a 39 percent approval rating in yesterday’s daily Gallup tracking poll. Former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers and Former RNC Chair Michael Steele are here to talk about what the President needs to do to respond to GOP criticism and voter fatigue.

 

Did you see Warren Buffett’s op ed ” Stop Coddling the Super-Rich” in today’s New York Times? In it, he makes the case for increased taxes on the nation’s wealthiest…something President Obama has been calling for. We’ll take a close look at Buffett’s proposal and its ramifications with msnbc Political Analyst Eugene Robinson. Tune in tonight!

Coming up on Hardball...

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