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Republican Debate, Candidates

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Donald Trump vs. Them 2.0 has begun!

The second of 11 scheduled Republican primary debates is underway, this time on CNN and with anchor Jake Tapper the only moderator on hand to keep 11 2016 presidential hopefuls in order, and--if at debate No. 1 Trump was regarded as a curiosity--this time the real estate mogul is a force to be reckoned with thanks to the polling numbers that have placed him at the top of the heat.

Let's see, what has happened since round 1...

Rick Perry became the first to drop out of the race, shrinking the field to 15 (Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, George Pataki and Bobby Jindal duked it out during happy hour); Megyn Kelly had to take a vacation; and Kanye West announced his intent to run for president in 2020.

It's a whole different political landscape out there.

Anyway, hopes weren't high heading into the evening's main event at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. (with no less than Reagan's retired Air Force One serving as the backdrop)...

...but you can bet that millions of people are watching and CNN is so thrilled that millions of people are watching.

"I will attempt to guide the discussion," Tapper admitted/announced in his opening remarks before the games got underway.

"I think we are in fact the A team…We even have our own Mr. T who doesn't mind saying about others, 'You're a fool,'" Mike Huckabee introduced both himself and Trump, apparently wanting to get on the frontrunner's good side before any punches were thrown.

Trump went for the 22-point word right off the bat: "I wrote The Art of the Deal and I say, not in a braggadocios way, I've made billions and billions of dollars doing business around the world and i want to put whatever that talent is to work for this country."

Then after Carly Fiorina said it was up to the voters whether they felt comfortable with Trump's hand on the nuclear codes, Trump kicked off with, "First of all, Rand Paul shouldn't even be on this stage, he's No. 11, he's got 1 percent in the polls and how he even got up here...There's too many people up here anyway."

OK...

Calling Trump's comment a bit of a "non sequitur," Paul said, "I am worried about having him in charge of the nuclear weapons because I think his response, his visceral response, to attack people on their appearance –short, bald, fat, ugly—my goodness, that happened in junior high Are we not above that?"

"I have never attacked him on his looks," Trump corrected Paul, "believe me, there's plenty of subject matter there."

On not being a Washington insider:

Chris Christie on holding down the fort:

The candidates on Iran...

On all the sweating, or lack thereof:

"You've got more energy tonight, I like that," Trump jabbed Jeb Bush.

On Trump vs. Bush:

General debate malaise:

On what this debate needs: