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Coming up on Hardball...

 Perry’s in! Gov. Rick Perry confirmed just hours before tonight’s debate that he’s getting in the 2012 race.

 Perry’s in! Gov. Rick Perry confirmed just hours before tonight’s debate that he’s getting in the 2012 race. He’ll formally announce his candidacy in Charleston, South Carolina this Saturday, the day of the Iowa Straw Poll. And we’ve seen this before: Sarah Palin diverted her “One Nation” bus tour, so she’ll be in Iowa, too. Tonight’s debate is the biggest showdown to date for the GOP 2012 candidates to date, but Perry and Palin are sucking up all the oxygen in the room (and the debate hall, and the fairgrounds). Are they rallying voters or raining on the grand parade? Party-building or party crashing? That’s our top story tonight. The authors of Game Change, msnbc Sr. Political Analyst Mark Halperin and New York Magazine National Affairs Editor John Heilemann, are here to discuss.

Next: Is tonight’s debate a matchup between the candidates, or a battle between the establishment GOP and the Tea Party faction? What does it mean if Michele Bachmann comes out on top? How about Mitt Romney? Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and msnbc Political Analyst Howard Fineman join us tonight.

Then: With low Presidential approval ratings, high unemployment, a rollercoaster stock market, and recent tragedy in Afghanistan, Democrats are getting nervous about President Obama’s re-election prospects. Can the President recapture the passion that galvanized voters in 2008? We’ll ask author and political commentator Ron Reagan and Salon’s Joan Walsh what the President needs to do to rally support ahead of 2012.    

Plus: All eyes on Iowa tonight as the GOP candidates engage in their biggest debate yet. What do the candidates have to accomplish tonight? Who has the most to gain? And who has the most to lose? We’ll talk strategy with msnbc Political Analyst Pat Buchanan and Democratic Strategist Steve McMahon. Don’t miss this show!