Rivals try to knock Romney off stride in NH debate

Sunday, January 08, 2012
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (L-R) participate in a Republican presidential candidate debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)  Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, looks on as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, speaks during a Republican presidential debate in Sioux City, Iowa, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Mitt Romney's rivals are hoping to seize on back-to-back debates this weekend to knock the front-runner off stride and gain momentum heading into Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.

Romney, who narrowly beat Rick Santorum in Iowa this week, had the most to lose in the debates as the other Republicans in the race try to prevent him from running away with the nomination.

Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry are competing to emerge as the conservative alternative to Romney. Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul are fighting to remain relevant.

Saturday night's debate was the first in more than three weeks, and the first since Michele Bachmann dropped out after the Iowa caucuses.

The candidates are facing a quick turnaround for the second debate, which is set for Sunday morning in Concord.

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