At a glance: main Republican candidates

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The Republican field of presidential hopefuls is broad and still forming. Here are snapshots of the seven candidates meeting in a debate Monday and the main other frontrunners.

Taking part in the New Hampshire televised debate:

-- Michele Bachmann: 55. Congresswoman often seen as an alternative to Sarah Palin: both are polarizing Tea Party favorites, wildly popular among core supporters and loathed by opponents. A formal declaration of candidacy is expected soon.

-- Herman Cain: 65. The former CEO of Godfather's Pizza has never run for president and his outsider status, together with public speaking talent, has helped him grab an unexpectedly large early following with his pro-businesses proposals. He is the only African American Republican candidate.

-- Newt Gingrich: 67. Big beast in the party with decades of high-level experience, including House speaker in the '90s. But he's hampered by a messy marital record and now a turbulent campaign, with the bulk of his staff walking out.

-- Ron Paul: 75. A veteran of past campaigns, the Texas congressman is a libertarian whose radical rethinking of US policies attracts dedicated supporters of the Tea Party type, but gives him little chance on wider political battlegrounds.

-- Tim Pawlenty: 50. Former Minnesota governor. His claim to fame is that he whipped overblown budgets into shape in Minnesota and did this in a state with strong liberal tendencies. But he has little name recognition and is seen by critics as lacking gravitas.

-- Mitt Romney: 64. Former Massachusetts governor. Polls make him the man to beat so far and he has the polished campaign machine of someone who already tried and failed to get the nomination in 2008. But some see the Mormon businessman as wooden and unable to fire up the country. His biggest liability among fellow Republicans is that he passed a health care plan as governor.

-- Rick Santorum: 53. A former Pennsylvania senator turned media commentator with a record of strongly conservative values on social issues.

Not taking part in debate but considered possible frontrunners:

-- Jon Huntsman: 51. Until recently the US ambassador to China, he has foreign policy experience and a moderate stand that could appeal to independents. Says he could declare in a matter of days.

-- Sarah Palin: 47. Started as a beauty queen and went on to show her steely side in Alaska where she became governor. Shot to stardom -- and controversy -- as vice presidential candidate in John McCain's failed 2008 bid. Hasn't declared yet but polls make her second only to Romney and she recently toured the northeast in a bus.

-- Texas Governor Rick Perry (61), former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani (67) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (48), who have not declared, are all heavyweights who could enter the race and turn the contest on its head.

© 2011 AFP

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