Billionaire businessman and media personality Donald Trump will be center stage among 11 top contenders at Wednesday's second 2016 Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library near Los Angeles.
With the bombastic, self-promoting Trump maintaining large lead in numerous voter opinion polls, most of his rivals are expected to aggressively engage him during the nationally televised event in order to boost their mediocre standing.
But Trump has relished attacking many of his rivals on the campaign trail, among them former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the son and brother of two former U.S. presidents once considered the leading candidate for the nomination before Trump's entry into the race.
Verbal fireworks expected
Despite being held at the library honoring the nation's 40th president, the expected verbal fireworks between the Republican contenders will likely put to the test Ronald Reagan's long-held political ethos: "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."
Joining Trump and Bush on stage will be current U.S. senators Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz; Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and John Kasich, the current governors of Wisconsin, New Jersey and Ohio respectively; former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee; retired brain surgeon Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of computer maker Hewlett-Packard, both of whom, like Trump, have earned support among Republican voters due to their status as political outsiders.
The soft-spoken Carson has steadily risen in voter opinion polls over the last month, and is in a strong second place behind Trump. Fiorina, the only woman in the Republican race, has seen her stature rise on the strength of her performance in a debate among other lower-ranked candidates last month. She has also been the target of Trump, who openly insulted her appearance during a recent magazine interview.
Four lower-ranked candidates -- Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum and ex-Governor George Pataki of New York state -- will take part in a separate debate Wednesday before the main event.
The first voting in the long journey to picking presidential nominees in the U.S. is not scheduled until February 1, at caucuses in the rural state of Iowa, and voters often change their minds about their preferred candidates.