Repub­li­can debate: The GOP field gets a sec­ond chance to escape Trump’s shad­ow

<div>Republican debate: The GOP field gets a second chance to escape Trump's shadow</div>

SIMI VALLEY, Cal­i­for­nia — Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates are set to gath­er onstage at the Ronald Rea­gan Pres­i­den­tial Library Wednes­day night for a sec­ond time with­out the front-run­ner, for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, par­tic­i­pat­ing.
The ques­tion is whether any can­di­dates can emerge from the debate with a dent in Trump’s lead.
DESANTIS UNDER PRESSURE TO GET OFF THE ROPES IN SECOND REPUBLICAN DEBATE
Trump still remains far above his 2024 rivals even after the first debate last month in which for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence show­cased a more aggres­sive approach, entre­pre­neur Vivek Ramaswamy took sev­er­al jabs from the field, and for­mer U.N. Ambas­sador Nik­ki Haley’s stand­out per­for­mance rein­vig­o­rat­ed her cam­paign. The for­mer pres­i­dent has con­sis­tent­ly point­ed to his over­whelm­ing lead as part of his rea­son­ing for skip­ping yet anoth­er debate.
Nation­al polls show Trump at more than 40 per­cent­age points above even his clos­est com­peti­tor, Gov. Ron DeSan­tis (R‑FL). In a Real­Clear­Pol­i­tics poll aver­age, 57.5% of Repub­li­cans back Trump, while 13.3% sup­port DeSan­tis, a 44-point advan­tage. “You see what’s going on with the polling. We’ve been like a rock­et ship,” Trump told a crowd of sup­port­ers at a Maquoke­ta, Iowa, event last week.
His absence could give away to anoth­er r …