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It wasn't supposed to be this way for Rick Perry.

A hard-talking embodiment of the conservative id, the Texas Governor entered the race in August and quickly shot to the front of the pack on broad appeal to the Tea Party base, and his message on job creation.

But something funny is happening to Rick Perry on the way to what many expected to be a charge to the nomination: Namely, Rick Perry.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has missed 150 votes in the House since announcing her candidacy for president, according to data gathered by Congressional Quarterly. That figure represents nearly half of all House votes held since June 13. Bachmann missed every vote held in September. The last time she cast a vote? August 1.

National Review reports: “New Jersey Republicans tell National Review Online that Gov. Chris Christie will not run for president. The governor, they predict, will make this clear at a press conference this afternoon.”

Herman Cain has turned the number nine into a campaign mantra. He's running on a plan to wipe out the current tax code and replace it with one branded 9-9-9 -- a nine percent personal income tax, a nine percent corporate income tax and a nine percent sales tax.

This, even conservative experts agree, wouldn't provide the federal government with enough revenue to maintain the safety net and would lead therefore to either persistent deficits and growing debt, or a drastic reduction in social programs.

Because in addition to setting the rates at nine percent, he says he wants them essentially frozen there, so they can't climb to meet the nation's needs.

Fox News' Chris Wallace recently asked Cain "[H]ow do you guarantee that 9-9-9 down the line doesn't become 12-12-12?"

Cain responded, "In the legislation that I'm going to ask Congress to send me, I want a two-thirds vote required by the Senate in order for them to change it. That will impede cavalierly raising it."

There are two significant problems with this.

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We are living in very important times for progressives, Van Jones told TPM Monday. The left's dream of a movement similar to the one that has transformed the Republican party into an instrument of its most ardent activists many finally be here.

If there's to be a liberal tea party, Jones said shortly after a rousing keynote at his Take Back The American Dream conference here in Washington, it's going to happen now.

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Despite the recent implosion of her campaign, Rep. Michelle Bachmann seems determined to put a positive spin on things, The Des Moines Register reports.

Speaking to an audience in Council Bluffs, Iowa last night, Bachmann claimed that the departures of pollster Ed Goeas and two other campaign staffers was part of her game plan.

“This has been in line with our plan all along,” she said. “This was not a long-term commitment that I had asked for the [congressional] staff. They were here on a relatively short commitment, and so they fulfilled what we asked.”

MSNBC reports that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has announced a 1 p.m. ET press conference where the governor is expected to make a final decision on whether he will run for the White House.

Final jury selection has begun in the terror trial of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (pictured above), known as the “underwear bomber,” who is accused of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day 2009, Reuters reports.

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