On the campus of Dartmouth College, the stage is set but no candidates were in sight before the latest showdown.
Perry is in New Hampshire but hasn't had a public event since Saturday in Iowa. His campaign says Perry has practiced more is getting more rest ahead the debate. It's a new tactic after the first three debates cost him his front runner position.
Tuesday will be very important if Perry is to get it back.
"If anyone wants to take advantage of the indications of disconent with Romney himself or with the field in general, I think the debate is a really good opportunity for that," said Chris Galdieri with the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads by 18 points according to a poll released this afternoon. Herman Cain is in second place, followed by Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and then Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry are tied with just 4 percent of the vote.
"Romney is sort of a hometown favorite and I'm not sure Perry's brand of more comabtive conservatism would neccessarily play very well here," Galdieri said.
While Perry may be taking a day off, his campaign isn't. They released an ad Monday morning attacking Mitt Romney for flip-flopping on numerous issues, ending with Romney's own debate slip, "There are plenty of reasons not to elect me."
Earlier in New Hampshire, Romney brushed it off.
"You're going to find in a campaign like this that people who are running against me are going to take what I've said and try to turn it and say something else," Romney said.
Romney cannot coast even there, where he is leading. That poll that shows him ahead but also shows his support isn't granite state solid. Only 10 percent of voters say they will definitely vote for him and just 14 percent says they are very satisfied with the field.
The debate Tuesday is supposed to center on business issues and the economy. If it does, and if he is prepared, Perry could have a big night; it is the one issue he wanted to campaign on.