2nd GOP debate descends into chaos

Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy
Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy sparring at the second GOP debate on Wednesday evening. (Mike Blake/Reuters)
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It only took a half an hour Wednesday night for the second Republican presidential debate to descend into chaos.

The cacophony of cross talk started after South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott abruptly pivoted from a substantive discussion of birthright citizenship and the Constitution’s naturalization clause to what appeared to be a rehearsed attack on entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who commanded the spotlight in last month’s GOP debate by brazenly bashing his rivals.

Loath to let that happen again, Scott questioned how Ramaswamy could say the rest of the field was “bought and paid for” when Ramaswamy was “just in business with the Chinese Communist Party and the same people who funded Hunter Biden ... was a partner of yours as well.” Scott was referring to Ramaswamy’s 2017 partnership with the private equity arm of CITIC Group, a state-owned Chinese investment firm run by a family that also had ties to President Biden’s son.

Read more on Yahoo News: Key moments from the Republican debate so far, from BBC News

Ramaswamy tried to swat away Scott’s barb, claiming that he only meant his rivals were “good people tainted by a broken system” and that he subsequently “got the hell out” of China.

“It’s nonsense,” he snapped.

But viewers could barely hear Ramaswamy.

“It’s not nonsense,” interrupted Scott.

“Can we please focus on the issues that matter?” interrupted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, striving to earn the-only-grown-up-in-the-room points.

“Thank you for speaking while I’m interrupting,” interrupted a flustered Ramaswamy.

“If you’re all speaking at the same time, no one can understand you,” interrupted moderator Ilia Calderón of Univision.

Read more on Yahoo News: Fact-checking the second Republican primary debate: Border wall, fentanyl and pensions, from USA Today

Calderón had a point. But the candidates continued talking over each other throughout the rest of the debate, with the moderators attempting to assert control.

"We cannot talk over each other," Fox News commentator Stuart Varney chided. "We must respect each other's time."

With all the squabbling, candidates squandering precious moments that they could have used to address their real problem: the fact that none of them has done anything in recent weeks to catch up to absentee frontrunner Donald Trump.

Trump is now leading his closest rival, DeSantis, by a staggering 46 percentage points, according to the latest Yahoo News/YouGov poll. Ramaswamy is further behind at 5%, and Scott barely registers.

Right before the first GOP debate (held Aug. 23), Trump led by 40 points in the Yahoo News/YouGov poll. That means he has gained more ground than any other Republican between then and now — despite not bothering to appear in Milwaukee or at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif.