Reuters – Rick Perry in the spotlight tonight for debate

* Appears for first time with rivals

* Will Romney go on the attack?

* Key moment for Michele Bachmann

By Steve Holland

SIMI VALLEY, California, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Texas Governor Rick Perry will be the man in the spotlight when Republican presidential candidates gather at Ronald Reagan’s library for a debate on Wednesday.

The conservative Perry, who has soared to front-runner status in just a few weeks as an official candidate, is to appear for the first time on the same stage as his rivals, who will be trying to knock him off his perch.

The event is the first in a series of debates over the next six weeks that will help define the Republican race, which increasingly looks like a two-man contest between Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.