What you need to know about the 2nd GOP debate

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GOP Debate Preview: Is Trump Bulletproof?



Top-Polling GOP Candidates Participate In First Republican Presidential DebateThe first Republican debate of the 2016 debate was just as huge as we were promised, but can Donald Trump and the Not Ready for Prime Time Politicians capture that magic once again? Well, CNN is going to try. The network has upped the stakes by placing the candidates in front of the actual Air Force One jet used by Ronald Reagan, and promising to provoke them into arguing with each other – not that they need much encouragement. After enduring weeks of insults from Donald Trump as he pulled further ahead of the rest of the pack, many candidates are eager to pick a fight with GOP's ultimate wild card. Here's a guide to get you up to speed on the Republicans' second showdown, and be sure to tune in tonight for Daily Intelligencer's live-blog and complete debate coverage.

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When and where is this debate being held?
Wednesday, September 16, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET* at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

I just remembered I don't have cable.
Not a problem. While the Fox News live stream was down for much of the last debate, CNN has vowed that everyone will be able to watch tonight's show online and via their apps, even if they don't have a cable subscription. "CNN will be live streaming the GOP debate .. online and across CNN's mobile platforms without authentication. Users won't have to log-in to see the stream, it will be available as soon as they visit CNN.com or access one of our apps," CNN toldFortune.

The Fox News debate drew 24 million viewers, and after it was reported that CNN is asking 40 times its usual rate for ads during the debate, Donald Trump sent a letter to CNN asking that they donate the profits to veterans' groups. He claimed, probably correctly, that "this tremendous increase in viewer interest and advertising is due 100 percent to 'Donald J. Trump,'" – though he added, "I refuse to brag." CNN has declined to comment on his request.

Check out the candidates who made the main debate stage:

11 PHOTOS
Next GOP Debate announced
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What you need to know about the 2nd GOP debate
FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. A wave of criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike rose Thursday after GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump insulted the physical appearance of his party's only female White House contender. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
FILE - In this Spet. 7, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive waves as she and supporters march in the Labor Day parade in Milford, N.H. Eleven Republican presidential candidates have qualified for next week’s primetime debate. CNN announced the slate Thursday night. It’s the largest group to share a presidential debate stage in modern political history. The candidates scheduled to face off Wednesday at the Reagan Presidential Library include Fiorina. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, details his tax reform plan in a speech at Morris & Associates in Garner, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a rally organized by Tea Party Patriots in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, to oppose the Iran nuclear agreement. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
FREEPORT, ME - SEPTEMBER 1: Senator Rand Paul speaks to his supporters at Linda Bean's Perfect Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern in Freeport. (Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 26: GOP Presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., holds a town hall meeting in Londonderry, N.H., on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Republican Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson answers questions at a news conference after speaking to the Commonwealth Club public affairs forum Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee addressed the crowd as they wait for Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to be released from the Carter County Detention Center, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Grayson, Ky. Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, was released Tuesday after five days behind bars. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie listens to a question as he addresses a gathering at the Chabad House at Rutgers University Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, in New Brunswick, N.J. Christie urged Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and the state's congressional delegation to oppose the Iran deal, which aims to dismantle Iran's nuclear capabilities in exchange for relief from international economic sanctions worth billions of dollars. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Republican presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, speaks during a campaign stop at New England College Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Henniker, N.H. The nation's earliest presidential primary in new Hampshire is less then six months away. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
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Which moderator will Republicans be angry at after this debate?
Probably conservative radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt. Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will get some flak if they pursue a Megyn Kelly-esque line of questioning, but Republicans have lower expectations for the CNN journalists. Hewitt, who refers to his show as "Na­tion­al Pub­lic Ra­dio for con­ser­vat­ives," is known for asking Republicans tough questions, but he's already tangled with the frontrunner. When Trump was unable to answer Hewitt's questions about the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Nusra and ISIS earlier this month, he accused the host of asking "gotcha questions," and later called him "third rate."

I'd like to see more of Chris Christie and Rand Paul shouting at each other.
CNN is trying to make that happen. "What the team and I have been doing is trying to craft questions that, in most cases, pit candidates against the other – specific candidates on the stage – on issues where they disagree, whether it's policy, or politics, or leadership," Tapper said. "Let's actually have them discuss and debate."

Great. Who are Donald Trump's potential targets?
It's the same lineup as the Fox News debate – Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, John Kasich, and Chris Christie – plus Carly Fiorina. Following her impressive performance in the undercard debate last month, Fiorina lobbied CNN to let her move up to the main event. The network changed its criteria earlier this month, ostensibly because there were fewer available polls than expected. Fiorina just happened to be the only additional candidate who qualified under the new rules.

Eleven candidates doesn't sound sufficiently ridiculous. Aren't you forgetting somebody?
Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, and Lindsey Graham will be in the so-called "kid's table" debate from 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m ET. Rick Perry was invited to participate, but he ended his campaign last week. Jim Gilmore was excluded this time because he's polling below one percent, which would be sad if he were actually campaigning.

What are the ground rules?
Candidates will have one minute to answer each question and 30 seconds for rebuttal if they're mentioned by another candidate. CNN may use video clips from the undercard debate, like Fox News did last month.

Has CNN come up with some flashy visual gimmick?
As far as we're concerned, no CNN event is complete without a hologram, but President Reagan's Air Force One is a pretty good consolation prize. CNN built the debate stage on scaffolding so the airplane – which you can tour if you visit the Reagan Library – serves as the backdrop for the debate. Start working on your tasteless "missing plane" jokes now!

Can I see some footage of CNN employees explaining the debate stage in excruciating detail?
Sure. Here's video of Anderson Cooper and CNN political director David Chalian touring the set and geeking out over potential fights between the candidates.

See photos of the candidates going head-to-head in the first debate:

27 PHOTOS
Main GOP Debate
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What you need to know about the 2nd GOP debate
Republican presidential candidates from left, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and John Kasich take the stage for the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidates arrive on stage for the start of the first Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. From left are: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; real estate magnate Donald Trump; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Real estate tycoon Donald Trump participates in the first Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland, as Scott Walker is seen at left.. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (L), Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (C) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (R) participate in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks as Scott Walker and Donald Trump listen during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Real estate tycoon Donald Trump (R) a nd Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker participate in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush take the stage for the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz speaks during the prime time Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush participates in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the prime time Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christey participates in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker (R) speaks with opponent Ben Carson during the prime time Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ohio Gov. John Kasich participates in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidates (L-R) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Carson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) take the stage for the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidates from left, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson take the stage for the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul speaks during the prime time Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Ben Carson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush take the stage for the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and John Kasich take the stage for the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Real estate tycoon Donald Trump (L) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) participate in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (C), retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (L), and real estate tycoon Donald Trump (R) participate in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush participate in the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie participates in the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Real estate tycoon Donald Trump (R) confers with Ohio Governor John Kasich (L) during a break in the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Audience members are reflected in a window as Republican presidential candidates (L-R) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Carson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and John Kasich participate in the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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How are the candidates preparing?
While Trump advisers are going to help him brush up on military and foreign policy issues, he claims, once again, that he isn't cramming for the debate. "I've been prepping for 30 years," he told the Wall Street Journal.

As for the rest of the field, they've vowed to be more aggressive this time around, since it's now clear that Trump is more than the GOP's summer fling. The New York Timesreports that Jeb Bush has been holding "rigorous practice sessions," and preparing snappy retorts to Trump's most frequent insults, such as his claim that Bush is "low energy." "If someone comes at me, bam! I'll come back at 'em," Bush said on the campaign trail this week. "I'll campaign hard."

Rand Paul, who was quick to confront Trump during the last debate, told CNN he plans to note that Trump disagrees with the rest of the GOP on eminent domain, Obamacare, and tax issues. "When Americans know that, when conservatives know that, they're going to run away with their hair on fire," Paul said.

Just in case Paul doesn't get called on this time, he also bought ad time during the debate. This spot will run in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada:

Paul confirmed that the last line is a dig at Trump, telling the Times, "Do I expect there will be a discussion on whether Trump is a fake conservative? Yeah."

In a recent Tonight show appearance, Chris Christie said he'll lose it if he isn't called on enough, which is a questionable plan for a well-known hothead. "There was one point where I went 20 questions in a row without being asked a question, and that's hard," Christie said. "By the way, stay tuned on September 16. We may be changing tactics if I get to like 15 questions in a row. Count them at home. ... you're gonna go: 'Uh oh, he's gonna go nuclear now."

After a poor showing during the last debate, which led to a serious dip in the polls, this is seen as the night that could make or break Scott Walker's campaign. Sources in the Walker camp told Politico that this time Walker will be more aggressive, he won't stop talking before his time is up, and rather than simply answering questions, he'll pivot to promoting his story. "If Gov. Walker lays an egg, he better be prepared to bootstrap his campaign in the coming 3-5 months because his fundraising will dry up," a veteran campaign manager and GOP operative predicted.

How Reagany will this debate be, on a scale of one to going on an all jelly bean diet?
Almost unbearably Reagany. The former president and GOP saint came up 14 times in the last debate, when the candidates weren't standing in front of a 152-foot symbol of his presidency. In preparation, Politifact has released a list of common ways modern Republicans distort Reagan's positions.

The candidates have already started squabbling over who was closest to the former president. John Kasich makes a pretty persuasive argument in this video about campaigning for Reagan during the 1976 convention. (Marco Rubio has the best excuse for failing to back Reagan during that race, as he was only five at the time).

In recent weeks Trump has implied that he and Reagan were friends, saying "I helped him. I knew him. He liked me and I liked him." But on Tuesday night the Wall Street Journalthoroughly refuted that claim. At the paper's request, Reagan Library officials searched their archives for any mention of Trump. The evidence shows the Regan White House kept Trump at arms length, which makes sense since his entire family donated to Jimmy Carter's campaign in 1979. While there were invitations to White House functions (and donations from Trump) in Reagan's second term, in memos administration officials referred to Trump's "large ego" and rejected a congratulatory telegram on the opening on Trump Tower saying, "Commercial. Don't do."

Worst of all, one of only two photos of Reagan and Trump shaking hands is stamped "To Donald Trump" and signed "Nancy & Reagan Reagan." A White House staffer noticed the error when the photo was published in Trump's The Art of the Deal and requested a new photo, saying, "It was obviously signed either in a rush or with a large batch."

Trump admitted to the paper, "I didn't know him well," but insisted that friends told him the president was a fan. "He felt very good about me," Trump said. "Frankly, he liked my attitude."

Sadly, Nancy Reagan is too frail to attend tonight's debate, so CNN won't be able to cut to her for reaction shots when candidates suggest they're essentially the second coming of Reagan.

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