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Factbox: Five things to watch in presidential debate

(Reuters) - The Republican presidential contenders meet on Tuesday in their 11th debate in the race for the nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.

Here are five things to watch during the foreign policy debate at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, the second debate on the subject in the last 10 days.

CAN GINGRICH MAINTAIN HIS MOMENTUM?

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has soared into the lead in polls after a series of strong debate performances as conservatives search for a candidate to coalesce around as an alternative to Mitt Romney.

A CNN/Opinion Research survey released on Monday put him in first place with a 4 point national edge on Romney, and other recent polls have shown similar results.

Gingrich has refused to criticize his Republican rivals and they have returned the favor, but that could end if he continues to show strength in polls.

The challenge for Gingrich will be to keep up his momentum now that he is under more scrutiny, and to turn his support into votes, despite little money and a late start in organizing his campaign.

DO REPUBLICANS KEEP UP THE TOUGH TALK ON IRAN, PAKISTAN?

It a November 12 debate in South Carolina, the Republicans differed on how aggressively the United States should move to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions and on the best approach to Pakistan.

Romney and Gingrich backed the use of a military option against Iran's nuclear program. Herman Cain and Ron Paul opposed the idea.

On Pakistan, Texas Governor Rick Perry said he would look at whether to eliminate U.S. aid to Pakistan because "they don't deserve our foreign aid ... they're not being honest with us."

Gingrich agreed, but Rick Santorum, a former senator, said Pakistan's nuclear weapons made it imperative that it remains a U.S. friend.

CAN HERMAN CAIN RECOVER FROM HIS LIBYA GAFFE?

Cain, who briefly led the field as the conservative alternative to the more moderate Romney, has faded after a series of sexual harassment allegations that he denied.

His foreign policy credibility took a hit during a session with the editorial board of a Wisconsin newspaper when he seemed totally stumped by a question on Obama's Libya policy.

"OK, Libya," Cain said, stalling during a lengthy search for an answer. "I gotta go back, see, got all this stuff twirling around in my head."

DOES ROMNEY CONTINUE HIS SMOOTH SAILING?

After several debates where Romney was attacked by his rivals, he has largely managed to avoid the spotlight in the last two encounters while shrugging off criticism and holding his spot near the top of the Republican pack.

While others bounce up and down in the polls, Romney has stayed steady near the top with support in the low to mid-20s.

His support for abortion rights and a healthcare mandate while governor of Massachusetts -- he now opposes both -- still makes him an object of suspicion for many social and religious conservatives.

Perry had been particularly aggressive in challenging Romney.

But Perry faces his own issues after his "oops" meltdown earlier this month, when he forgot one of the three agencies he routinely pledges to eliminate if elected.

DOES GINGRICH FACE QUESTIONS ABOUT VIEWS ON ARAB SPRING?

Gingrich recently criticized the Obama administration's policy in the Middle East and said the "Arab Spring" in countries like Egypt could create a backlash against Christians.

"I think we may in fact be having an anti-Christian spring. I think people should take this pretty soberly," he said.

(Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Christopher Wilson)

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