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Perry reveals his economic plans

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is unveiling his economic plan hoping to recover the top contender spot in the race to challenge president Barack Obama.

The major policy is a critical part of the conservative Texas governor's efforts to right a struggling campaign in which he briefly enjoyed front-runner status following his late entry into the race before fizzling to third place after a series of mistakes.

It is also an opportunity for Mr Perry to demonstrate a seriousness that was not on display during recent debates.

Mr Perry's plan also set him to the right of presumed front-runner former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who wants to make less sweeping changes to tax rates.

The plan, which includes a flat tax proposal, private retirement accounts for Social Security - the government's pension programme - and a lower corporate tax rate, allow Mr Perry once again to paint himself as the true conservative alternative to Mr Romney, who many in the party consider too moderate.

Mr Perry also hopes the plan will help him overtake businessman Herman Cain who currently sits near the top of the polls, largely on the strength his own version of a flat tax plan.

The policy rollout comes as Mr Perry prepares to start airing TV ads in an early primary state and has hired a roster of experienced national campaign operatives to help him. Mr Perry's chief adviser on the economic plan is former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, who proposed a 17% flat tax when he ran for president in 1996.

Meanwhile, Mr Obama was in California raising money for his re-election campaign, tapping a reliable donor base heavy on Hollywood personalities.

The president was to tape an appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", his second as sitting president and fourth appearance overall.

Celebrities are a tried and true fundraising draw, particularly for Democratic presidents. Both the president and the stars bask in their reflected fame and the endorsement of stars can be a useful asset.

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