GOP Hopefuls Look To Debate For Last-Minute Boost

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Mitt Romney's rivals for the Republican presidential nomination are hoping to use Thursday's debate to present an alternative to the front-running former Massachusetts governor.

They also want a last-minute boost ahead of this weekend's test vote in Iowa. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman are preparing to use the debate in Des Moines to showcase their differences with Romney. Other candidates, such as Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, are using the Fox News Channel debate to promote their issues and profiles.

Hanging over the debate is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has signaled that he will probably join the field. Perry won't be participating, but the prospect of a Perry campaign is overshadowing some already in the race.