Published: Sep 07, 2011 12:05 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 07, 2011 2:43 PM EDT

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) - Rick Perry is looking to make a strong first impression on the national stage. Mitt Romney is hoping for another flawless debate performance, while Michele Bachmann may be shooting for relevance in what increasingly appears to be a two-man race.
 
The three GOP presidential candidates were to appear onstage Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with the rest of the Republican field for the first of three debates in as many weeks.
 
The events promise to shape the GOP presidential race heading into this winter's series of nominating primaries and caucuses.
 
Polls show Perry, the Texas governor, and Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, competing for the lead. Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman who was running strong in polls earlier this summer, is trailing, alongside other lesser-known Republican candidates.