It’s time for the second Republican presidential debate, and all signs point to a slugfest as fading candidates desperately try to stop Donald Trump, snag a few new poll points, and find some room for themselves on the highlight reels.

Sixteen GOP candidates are participating in Wednesday night’s double debate. The “main event,” which airs on CNN at 8 p.m. ET, will feature the top 11 candidates as reflected by an average of national polls taken between July 16 and Sept. 10. The “undercard,” beginning at 6 p.m., will consist of the remaining five candidates who both fulfill the candidate requirements and register at least a 1 percent average in national polls within the same period.

CNN’s Jake Tapper will moderate, with additional questions by conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt and CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash. Speaking to CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” Tapper said of his role, “The challenge is going to be considerable, given the fact that you have 11 candidates on the stage for the main debate and they all want to talk and they all want to make their points.”

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“We’re just going to try to enforce the rules — a minute when you’re called on, 30 seconds to respond if your name has been mentioned or you’ve been attacked,” he said. “And I’m just going to do the best I can. I don’t know if bringing out a whip and a lion tamer’s chair would help, but we’re just going to try to enforce the rules and ask the questions and see what happens.”

Among the burning but not-so-political questions the viewing public may have are these:

Will Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump simultaneously implode from their anxiousness to duke it out with the other?

Will Trump and his blowsy speaking style stumble into another controversy, as he did with the first GOP debate when he was questioned by Fox News’ Megyn Kelly — a kerfluffle that prompted late-night explanations from Trump?

Will Jeb Bush move from low-energy candidate to Energizer Bunny? Will calm but literate Ben Carson make a move from carefully crafted responses to a breakout moment in the spotlight to support his impressive poll numbers in New Hampshire and Iowa? Will Fiorina continue her poised, articulate appeal to the American people and continue touting the beauty of all women’s faces? And will Chris Christie, John Kasich or Scott Walker defy the odds and their low numbers and have a true game-changing moment of their own?

When asked by Brian Stelter if this was the toughest assignment of his career, Tapper compared his job during the debate with reporting in Afghanistan.

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Just in time for digestion before Wednesday night’s debate, a New York Times/CBS poll shows that Trump and Carson are leading the GOP pack — Trump 27, Carson 23, Bush 6, Mike Huckabee 6, Marco Rubio 6, Ted Cruz 5, Fiorina 4, Kasich 3, Rand Paul 3, Walker 2.

The debate itself has already been the subject of controversy, as Fiorina didn’t originally qualify for the main event the first time. But after her performance in the second-tier forum, her poll numbers instantly rose. After urging CNN to reconsider her as a top-tier candidate with every campaign-trail breath she took, CNN eventually changed its guidelines, and Fiorina will now lace up for the main event.

When asked by Brian Stelter if this was the toughest assignment of his career, Tapper compared his job during the debate with reporting in Afghanistan.

“I’m sure there are going to be plenty of nasty tweets coming my way one way or another on Wednesday night, as is the case every day of my life,” he said. “It’s nothing compared to actual bullets fired by the Taliban. So, I’m OK.” 

The contest will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., and will air live on CNN, CNN International and CNN Espanol. Only candidate Jim Gilmore will be absent, as he did not achieve the 1 percent poll threshold needed to participate.