Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump meet for their first debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

With Breanne Deppisch and Elise Viebeck 

THE BIG IDEA: The consensus that Donald Trump badly lost the first debate gelled overnight. Liberals predictably panned the GOP nominee’s performance on Long Island, but some of the harshest reviews are coming from conservative thought leaders who had been starting to come around.

-- Instant reaction:

Republican pollster Frank Luntz conducted a focus group of undecided voters in Pennsylvania. Sixteen said Hillary Clinton won. Five picked Trump, per CBS News.

In a Florida focus group organized by CNN, 18 of 20 undecided voters picked Clinton as the winner.

Not one of 29 undecided voters in an Ohio focus group organized by Park Street Strategies thought Trump prevailed, while 11 picked Clinton and the rest said neither. By a two-to-one margin, the group thought Clinton had the better tone and, by a three-to-one margin, they thought she came across as more knowledgeable candidate on the issues.

A CNN/ORC flash poll found that 62 percent said the Democrat won, compared to 27 percent who picked Trump. That’s on par with 2012, when Mitt Romney was seen as the winner of the first debate.

In a separate instant-poll from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, 51 percent said Clinton won and 40 percent picked Trump.

Eight in 10 insiders in the key battleground states thought Clinton performed better, including 57 percent of Republicans, according to the Politico Caucus survey.

-- Trump’s surrogates in the spin room were downbeat, and the candidate himself has already begun making excuses: “They gave me a defective mic,” he complained to reporters during a gaggle. “Did you notice that? My mic was defective within the room. I wonder, was that on purpose?” There was no clear problem with his microphone during the debate, Jose DelReal notes.

Trump was supposed to stop by the Nassau County Republican Committee’s watch party on his way home. He skipped it. Clinton, meanwhile, celebrated with hundreds of supporters in Westbury.

And Rudy Giuliani, a top Trump surrogate, even suggested that Trump should skip the next two debates unless he gets concessions. “If I were Donald Trump I wouldn’t participate in another debate unless I was promised that the journalist would act like a journalist and not an incorrect, ignorant fact checker,” he said.

If you missed it, here's the debate in three minutes:

-- It was a debate about Trump. Like the whole 2016 cycle, the GOP nominee sucked up all the oxygen. Facebook says eight in 10 posts about the debate focused on him. Twitter said 62 percent of debate-related tweets were about him.

-- But Trump’s lack of preparation showed. There were too many missed opportunities to count.

“I'm not positive Hillary actually won the debate. But I'm sure Trump lost it. He choked,” writes Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol.

“Even if you are a Trump supporter, you have to think that he left a lot on the table,” writes GOP super lobbyist Ed Rogers, a veteran of the Reagan and Bush 41 White Houses. “He didn’t see the openings and he didn’t swing at the softballs that came his way. He never used the word ‘change,’ he didn’t bore in on Hillary’s email scandal and he never got around to the Clinton Foundation and Hillary’s suspect integrity. Trump was inarticulate and rarely hit the bull’s eye.”

 “He was exciting but embarrassingly undisciplined,” writes New York Post conservative columnist John Podhoretz. “He began with his strongest argument — that the political class represented by her has failed us and it’s time to look to a successful dealmaker for leadership — and kept to it pretty well for the first 20 minutes. Then due to the vanity and laziness that led him to think he could wing the most important 95 minutes of his life, he lost the thread of his argument, he lost control of his temper and he lost the perspective necessary to correct these mistakes as he went. By the end … Trump was reduced to a sputtering mess blathering about Rosie O’Donnell and about how he hasn’t yet said the mean things about Hillary that he is thinking.”

“After the first 20 minutes, it may have been the most lopsided debate I’ve ever seen — and not because Clinton was particularly effective. But you don’t need to be good when your opponent is bad,” writes National Review’s David French, who considered running for president as an independent. “Why didn’t he have a better answer ready for the birther nonsense? Has he still not done any homework on foreign policy? I felt like I was watching the political Titanic hit the iceberg, back up, and hit it again. Just for fun.”

The Fix’s Chris Cillizza notes in his piece on the night’s winners and losers that Trump never even mentioned the phrase basket of deplorables. “Trump was simply not prepared well enough for this debate,” says Cillizza. “His [birther answer] was like watching a car accident in slow motion.”

As Dana Milbank writes, “Trump ostentatiously avoided preparation — playing the proverbial high school slacker drinking beer behind the bleachers while the teacher’s pet was in the library. But Monday night was the revenge of the nerd.”

From the chief strategist of Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign:

From the chief strategist of John Kasich’s 2016 campaign:

Trump’s web site was not even ready for the deluge of traffic. It crashed.

-- Trump got worse with each passing exchange. “In the early stages, Clinton and Trump seemed evenly matched, but the longer it went on, the more she was able to score against him,” writes Dan Balz, The Post’s chief correspondent.

Trump took the stage subdued, trying to show he’s serious, but he became peeved as he allowed Clinton’s attacks to get under his skin. “Within minutes of the opening bell, Clinton’s attacks forced domesticated Donald to go feral – he bellowed, interrupted her repeatedly, grunted, and toward the bedraggled end, became muted and pouty,” writes Politico’s Glenn Thrush.

“’I did not! I did not! I do not say that,’ he shouted as Clinton accused him of calling climate change a hoax, which he has said on numerous occasions,” Jenna Johnson recounts. “‘Facts!’ he yelled as Clinton began to question the accuracy of his assertions. ‘Wrong! Wrong!’ he said as Clinton stated that he initially supported the Iraq War, which he had. ‘Where did you find it? Oh really?’ Trump said as Clinton referred to a beauty pageant contestant who has accused Trump of calling her ‘Miss Housekeeping’ because she is Latina.”

“Trump needed to conceal his temper … and appear ready to be president. He didn’t,” writes conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin. “There were too many instances in which the real Donald showed through. Clinton wasn’t emotive, but she was cool and efficient in drawing blood.”

“If her goal was to get under Trump’s skin — you know, sniff out his weakness, and bait him into losing his temper — it worked,” adds conservative columnist Matt Lewis. “She got under that thin skin by talking about his inherited wealth and questionable status as a billionaire.”

-- Trump played to his base. He did nothing to win over fresh converts or reassure recalcitrant Republicans. Sean Hannity’s audience is not who he needs to win over.

“Unpersuaded college educated white women didn’t come away from this debate — at least not in large numbers — feeling reassured by Trump,” conservative Jonah Goldberg writes in National Review.Clinton was narrowcasting at the voters she needs. Trump was broadcasting to the voters he already has. If you’re truly pro-Hillary or pro-Trump it doesn’t matter what you thought tonight. Your vote is baked in. But if you’re on the fence or thinking about not voting at all, your impression matters — a lot. And in this regard, I think Clinton was the winner.”

“Hillary was well-informed and unflappable; Trump got across his major themes but was probably too Trump to widen support,” National Review executive editor Rich Lowry concludes. “I thought Trump might save a weak substantive performance with some big moments, but he didn't have any that cut his way.”

It is hard to imagine that there was a single moment in the debate that would have convinced a wavering college-educated woman in the Philadelphia or Cincinnati suburbs to vote for Trump,”  writes Roll Call columnist Walter Shapiro. “In fact, Trump seemed to be debating with the single-minded goal of turning his gender gap into a canyon. … In 1973, a trash-talking, over-age self-described ‘chauvinist pig’ named Bobby Riggs took on Billie Jean King in a tennis match in the Houston Astrodome that was billed as The Battle of the Sexes. King won in straight sets. History repeated itself Monday. … Clinton defeated Trump in straight sets.”

-- Clinton’s performance, in contrast, will excite her base and put a pause to some of the recent bedwetting about a tightening race.

“Clinton’s calm dissection of her foe reassured jittery supporters,” writes liberal Post columnist E.J. Dionne. “Clinton shifted the contest her way during her party’s convention. She did it again during Monday night’s debate.”

“Clinton was not great at times; her language was occasionally stilted; she missed some obvious moments to go in for the kill; but she was solid and reassuring and composed,” New York Magazine’s Andrew Sullivan concludes. “I was afraid that Trump’s charisma and stage presence and salesmanship might outshine Hillary Clinton’s usually tepid and wonkish instincts. I feared that the facts wouldn’t matter; that a debate would not take place. And it is to Clinton’s great credit that she prepared, and he didn’t, and that she let him hang himself.”

The contrast between an obviously and eminently qualified public servant and a ranting bully was as stark as any presidential debate in American history,” adds Jonathan Chait, his colleague at the magazine.

Trump’s failure to offer an improved explanation for his years challenging Barack Obama’s legitimacy could also help galvanize African American voters. “He has a long record of engaging in racist behavior, and the birther lie was a very hurtful one,” Clinton said during the debate, twisting the knife. “Barack Obama is a man of great dignity, and I could tell how much it bothered him and annoyed him that this was being touted and used against him.”

-- Trump also gave ad-makers tons of fodder for fresh attack ads. Clinton, on the other hand, made no gaffes that could be used in a negative ad.

When Clinton said Trump paid no federal income tax, he did not dispute it. “That makes me smart,” he blurted.

From Jeb Bush’s 2016 communications director:

From a Republican foreign policy hand who helped prepare Mitt Romney for the 2012 debates:

Trump also did not dispute that he has stiffed people he hired to do work for him. Clinton brought as one of her guests an architect who designed the clubhouse at one of his golf courses yet was not paid all that he was owed. “Maybe he didn’t do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work,” Trump replied. This prompted one GOP operative – a former communications director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee – to tweet:

Attacked for declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying creditors, Trump boasted said: “We used certain laws that were there.”

The crowd in the hall at Hofstra literally laughed out loud when Trump declared that he has a better temperament than Clinton. “I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament,” he said.

The Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA, released a new ad at 3:33 a.m. highlighting this quote. What follows are 25 seconds of him saying outrageous, unhinged things at rallies. The sport will run in North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

Watch:

-- The Republican nominee also made a series of demonstrably untrue claims, which will make it harder for him to credibly prosecute the case that Clinton is not trustworthy.

“Trump repeatedly relied on troublesome and false facts that have been debunked throughout the campaign,” The Post’s Fact Checkers, Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, conclude. “Clinton stretched the truth on occasion, such as when she tried to wiggle out of her 2012 praise of the Trans Pacific Partnership as a ‘gold standard.’ But her misstatements paled in comparison to the list of Trump’s exaggerations and falsehoods. Trump once again asserted that the 2008 Clinton campaign was responsible for spreading the myth that President Obama was born in Kenya, when that is false. He claimed that ‘thousands’ of American jobs will leave the country when Ford shifts small-car manufacturing to Mexico, but no one here will lose their jobs. He also falsely claimed that he was against the Iraq War, when all available evidence demonstrates that he supported it until the rest of the country began to turn against it in 2004. He also once again falsely said he started his business with a ‘small loan’ from his father.” (Here’s a roundup of 23 of the most noteworthy claims that were made.)

The biggest whopper was when, despite all evidence to the contrary, Trump vehemently denied that he had supported the Iraq War at the outset. Peter Wehner, who has served in three Republican administrations, said Trump “self-destructed” as he baldly lied about his opposition to the invasion. “Mr. Trump not only denied reality; he denied reality that was captured on tape, meaning it’s indisputable,” Wehner writes in the Times. “No matter. He lives in his own make believe world. [And] for Trump to then follow up his tirade by insisting that he has the right temperament to be president shows you how unbalanced he is. The unmasking continues.”

-- Influential journalists in key battleground states are covering the debate as a loss for Trump. Three examples:

Experts: Round 1 to Clinton” is the headline in the Des Moines Register. “He was loose with facts, short on details and exactly the sort of undisciplined non-politician that helped him win the GOP nomination,” writes Register columnist Kathie Obradovich.

“He had his best moments in the opening minutes, when he emphasized his opposition to foreign trade deal,” Henry J. Gomez writes in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Clinton turned the one portion of the evening that could have turned into a disaster for her – a question about her irresponsible email practices while secretary of state – into a quick moment of contrition. And that was the end of it. She frequently had Trump on the defensive.”

“I thought Trump started out pretty well, but gradually got worse throughout the debate,” writes Reno Gazette-Journal columnist Jon Ralston, the dean of the Nevada press corps. “By the end, he was sputtering about Rosie. Clinton killed him on taxes, birtherism and misogyny. And he was so rattled, he didn't bring up her weaknesses very much. Clinton clearly won.”

Hillary Clinton visits a watch party after the debate. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

-- Will the debate matter?

“He turned in the worst ― and I mean worst ― debate performance in modern times,” writes the Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman, who has covered every presidential debate since 1988. “It was so bad that in a normal year, it would disqualify him from getting anywhere near the White House. But this is 2016, a year so weird, unsettled and unsettling, that even the spectacle of an unprepared and almost incoherent Trump, reeling from blow after blow from [Clinton], may not be enough to slow him down.”

“If her objective was to tweak Trump’s temper, avoid a major mistake, and calmly cloak herself in the presidency, Clinton checked all three boxes,” writes The Atlantic’s Ron Fournier. “It may not matter: Trump is the candidate of change and disruption at a time when voters crave the freshly shaken. But the former secretary of state made the strongest case possible for the status quo, arguing that while voters want change in the worst way, Trump’s way would be the worst.”

Clinton “won the debate on points, and probably won it in the court of public opinion, and in the process eased liberal anxiety and pushed the race back toward its ‘Hillary by four’ equilibrium,” conservative columnist Ross Douthat writes in the New York Times. “What she didn’t do, however, was goad Trump into a true meltdown or knock him out with a truly devastating attack. Caution is a front-runner’s strategy, and though the race has tightened Clinton remains the favorite, so the careful way she handled things was a reasonable play … But her caution probably helped preserve the race’s drama even though the overall outcome was clear enough. She won the night, but he lived to fight another day.

But as National Review’s Jim Geraghty wonders, “If this doesn’t reverse the polls for Hillary Clinton, what can?”

Clinton and Trump meet again on Oct. 9 in St. Louis and then Oct. 19 in Las Vegas.

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Trump’s comments on women will probably drive the day.

On “Fox and Friends” this morning, he doubled down on his attacks of Alicia Machado, the Miss Universe candidate he once allegedly dubbed “Miss Piggy,” calling her “the worst” contestant they ever had. "She was impossible,” Trump said. “She was the winner and you know she gained a massive amount of weight, it was a real problem … We had a real problem with her. This was many years ago, and [Clinton] found the girl and talked about her like she was Mother Teresa and it wasn't quite that way, but that's okay,” he added. “Hillary has to do what she has to do."

There could also be follow-ups after Trump awkwardly hinted at Bill Clinton’s infidelity in the final moments of the debate. He acted as if he was about to attack Hillary for Bill’s infidelity at the very end. Over the weekend, he threatened to invite Gennifer Flowers. “I was going to say something extremely tough to Hillary, to her family, and I said, ‘I just can’t do it,” Trump said. In the spin room after, he said he held back because their daughter was there. "I didn't wanna say what I was going to say with Chelsea in the room," Trump told ABC News. "So, maybe they're well off to bring Chelsea all the time."

-- Also happening this morning—The Daily 202 Live with Tom Vilsack: James interviews the former Iowa governor from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Eastern. Greg Jaffe and Juliet Eilperin also have an excellent profile of Vilsack in today’s paperWatch the livestream here.

The no-funny-hats rule apparently no longer applies in the eighth year of one's presidency. Barack Obama addressed leaders of more than 500 Native Americans tribes at an eighth annual conference. "I hope I’ve done right by you,” he told the crowd at the White House, per Juliet Eilperin. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

-- The Obama administration is settling lawsuits with 17 Native American tribes that accused the U.S. government of mismanaging funds and natural resources. The $492.8 million settlement resolves years of complaints, some of which date back a century. (Sari Horwitz)

The devastation in Aleppo keeps getting worse, and Russia is to blame. (Reuters)

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. The Russians and the Syrians continued their barbaric, intensive airstrikes in Aleppo for the fourth day in a row, despite an emergency Security Council meeting at the U.N.
  2. The Senate will vote tomorrow on overriding Obama’s veto of legislation that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s likely to get the necessary two-thirds support, and then the House will vote later this week. (Karoun Demirjian and Catherine Ho)
  3. A Houston gunman wounded nine before being fatally shot by police. The shooter was a lawyer who was having unspecified issues with his law firm. (Mark Berman)
  4. The 20-year-old man accused of fatally shooting five at a Washington state mall was charged with five counts of first-degree murder. Arcan Cetin, who evaded a manhunt for 24 hours following his Friday shooting rampage, appeared calm at his arraignment. (Jody Allard, M.L. Lyke and Amy B Wang)
  5. NASA’s Hubble space telescope appears to have found active water plumes on Europa, suggesting that there may be geyser activity on Jupiter’s icy moon. (Rachel Feltman)
  6. Crucial evidence is missing in the police shooting death of Keith Scott because one of the officers failed to activate his body camera equipment until more than 40 seconds into the encounter. The lapse is a violation of department policy and contributes to the lack of transparency surrounding Scott’s death last week. (Wesley Lowery)
  7. Crime in the U.S. spiked to its highest rate in three years in 2015, with a 10 percent jump in homicides and a 4 percent rise in violent crime. It’s the largest one-year increase since 1968, but the numbers are centered around a few major cities. (Mark Berman)
  8. The Labor Department is suing Palantir Technologies, claiming the company has “systemically discriminated” against Asian applicants in Silicon Valley. (New York Times)
  9. French President Francois Hollande vowed to shut down the Calais migrant camp by the end of the year, seeking to relocate more than 7,000 people into migrant centers across France while they await asylum. (AP)
  10. The contents of Paul LePage’s "binder of drug dealers" were released, with the Maine governor making public nearly 150 pages of drug dealers arrested in the state. The Republican has said that “90-plus percent of those pictures” are of black or Hispanic drug dealers. In fact, 60 percent appear to be white. (Portland Press-Herald)
  11. An Air Force colonel facing a court martial for rape and other sexual assault charges was found dead in his home. It appears to be suicide. (Craig Whitlock)
  12. The University of North Dakota is investigating two racially-charged photos posted by students last week – including one with four white females posing in blackface. A Kansas State University student was just expelled for posting a similar photo. (Peter Holley)
  13. A 22-year-old Rhode Island man who had been missing at sea for a week was found alive on a life raft, two days after the Coast Guard suspended a search. His mother is still missing. (Lindsey Bever)
  14. A new study finds that ants can be addicted to morphine. The insects were observed to repeatedly choose morphine over sugar, making them the first non-mammal to display drug-seeking behaviors. (New York Times)
Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan, testifies during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing last week. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

-- Sen. Joe Manchin’s daughter misled Congress about her company’s profit margins on EpiPens. Lawmakers were skeptical last week when Mylan CEO Heather Bresch (the daughter of the West Virginia Democrat) repeatedly insisted that her company made only $100 in profit for a two-pack of EpiPens. The incredulity was warranted: The profits Bresch told Congress about were calculated after factoring in the 37.5 percent U.S. tax rate, according to a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That tax rate is more than five times the overall tax rate the company actually paid last year and much higher than its actual U.S. tax rate, which tax specialists have pegged at close to zero. Before taxes, the EpiPen profit is actually $160 for a two-pack. (Carolyn Y. Johnson)

A protester dons a Trump head as he demonstrates outside Hofstra University. (Reuters/Brian Snyder)

THE DAILY DONALD:

-- Trump’s charitable foundation received $2.3 million from companies that owed money to Trump or one of his businesses but were instructed to pay Trump’s tax-exempt foundation instead, David Fahrenthold reports. Among them: a $400,000 Comedy Central payment for a 2011 “roast,” and payments totaling nearly $1.9 million from a man in New York City who sells sought-after tickets and one-of-a-kind experiences to wealthy clients. That man, Richard Ebers, bought goods and services from Trump or his businesses, and was instructed to pay the Trump Foundation instead. Under tax law, these kind of arrangements are called “assignment of income,” and are typically allowed, so long as the person who was owed the money pay income tax on it. But the gifts raise questions on more mysteries surrounding the foundation: “Why would other people continue giving to Trump’s charity when Trump himself gave his last recorded donation in 2008? Did Trump, in fact, pay income tax in the cases where he directed his own fees to the Trump Foundation?” He won’t say.

-- “Trump keeps asking foreign leaders for money. The latest: Vicente Fox,” by Matea Gold: “Vicente Fox, the former president of Mexico, received a plaintive fundraising request this weekend. ‘You are our country's only hope,’ read the email, which urged him to make ‘a generous contribution.’ The sender? [Donald Trump]. It was the second missive that Fox received to his personal email address this month seeking donations for the Trump campaign ... This is puzzling for a number of reasons. The first: Fox is no friend of Trump. In fact, he may be his most vocal foreign critic … But secondly, and even more importantly: It is illegal for an American candidate to solicit funds from foreign nationals. The law was brought to the attention of the Trump campaign back in June, when reports surfaced that lawmakers in Scotland, England, Iceland, Australia and other countries were getting a barrage of fundraising emails from the Trump campaign. Two campaign finance watchdog groups … filed complaints in June with the FEC.” 

-- Star Ledger, “Wildstein testimony draws more people into Bridgegate web,” by Ted Sherman: “The day David Wildstein unleashed a traffic nightmare of epic proportions on Fort Lee to punish Mayor Mark Sokolich for his refusal to endorse Gov. Chris Christie, he claimed the governor's own campaign manager was already aware of the plan. Testifying for the second day in federal court in the Bridgegate trial, Wildstein said he informed Bill Stepien, who now works for the Trump campaign, that he was moving forward with a ploy to shut down local access lanes at the George Washington Bridge in a scheme of political retaliation targeting the local mayor.” Wildstein also testified he told Port Authority Commissioner William “Pat” Schuber, and recalled informing him over breakfast that the direction regarding the lane closures had come from the governor's office, and told him specifically it was aimed at Sokolich. "’He said he understood,’ Wildstein said. Neither Stepien nor Schuber have been charged in the case and both denied Wildstein's assertions.”

-- Trump won the endorsement of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, a union representing 5,000 federal immigration officers and law enforcement staff. In a statement, president Chris Crane praised Trump’s immigration policy, saying members of his union are "the last line of defense for American communities" and are currently prevented “from enforcing the most basic immigration laws." Trump claimed during the debate that ICE itself endorsed him, which is of course wrong. (Reuters)

-- Glenn Beck formally parted ways with Ted Cruz after his endorsement of Trump this weekend, breaking up” with the Texas senator he once supported so adamantly he held a prayer fast for his nomination. The Daily Beast’s Andrew Kirell reports on their tense final interview: After nearly 20 minutes of back and forth, in which Cruz continued to defend his support of Trump as a binary choice, Beck finally declared, “Ted, I disagree with you, I disagree with you strongly.” Afterwards, he lamented, “For the very first time I heard Ted Cruz calculate. And when that happened, the whole thing fell apart for me. It’s my fault for believing men can actually be George Washington. It’s my fault.” Beck then made a jaw-dropping admission: Maybe Marco Rubio would’ve been better. “I should have said, 'You know who can win, you know who could beat Hillary Clinton? Marco Rubio,'” he said. “‘He's a different kind of politician, he's young politician, he's a Hispanic, he can win. Let's go for it.’”

Then his regrets turned to anger: "[Beck] suggested Cruz would now attempt to shame him and others for refusing to vote for either major-party nominee. 'Why don’t you just cover me in a bucket of blood?' he shouted. 'The interview pissed me off,' he later asserted. 'That was so calculated that it was stunning to me.'"

-- Ed Meese, the former attorney general and adviser to Ronald Reagan, is joining Trump’s transition team, reversing course after criticizing the Republican nominee during the primaries. “Two sources said Meese is heading a Trump transition group focused on the Executive Office of the President, which includes the Office of Management and Budget,” Politico reports.

-- “The Myth Of ‘Trump-Whisperer' Kellyanne Conway,” by BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins: “No one has gotten more credit (or blame) for the recent turnaround at the Trump campaign than Kellyanne Conway, the always-on-TV Republican pollster who was promoted last month to campaign manager. In the five weeks since Conway took the job, [Trump] has grown gradually more disciplined and adult-like as a candidate … And as the race has narrowed, Conway has emerged in the popular imagination of politicos and pundits as the deft handler who’s finally succeeded in domesticating Trump. [But] interviews this week … suggest her ‘Trump-whisperer’ status is more made-for-TV myth than reality”: Some said bluntly that his well-documented aversion to stage management could “probably not be overcome by a woman.” Others attribute Trump’s discipline to his own competitive drive and fear of losing the election.  Meanwhile, several [people] close to Roger Ailes said he is playing a much larger backstage role in handling Trump than many realize. “Trump doesn’t listen to anyone,” said a source. “But he does listen to Roger sometimes.”

-- Ford said it will stay in the U.S. “forever,” pushing back after Trump accused the automaker of planning to “fire all its [U.S.] employees” and move to in Mexico. There will be “zero job losses” as a result of the new plant, spokeswoman Christine Baker said. And the Michigan plant currently building models that will move to Mexico will instead be tasked with other projects – such as the new Ford Bronco SUV and Ranger small pickup. (CNN Money)

Mike Pence takes a selfie before the debate at Hofstra. He debates Tim Kaine next week. Kaine was campaigning in Florida. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

THE DAILY HILLARY:

-- Tim Kaine visited the site of the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, quietly laying flowers where gunman Omar Mateen killed 49 people in June. "The thing that's painful about this: this is a weird thing to say but I always hoped that Virginia Tech would be the worst one ever," said Kaine, who served as Virginia’s governor at the time. “As bad as that was, I hoped nothing would ever eclipse it. But such is life. We got work to do." (Politico)

Moderator Lester Holt (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

LESTER HOLT GOT MOSTLY GOOD REVIEWS:

The moderate played a mostly passive role in the debate, rarely interjecting while Clinton and Trump duked it out amongst themselves. For most, it was a welcome change – but others resented him for running such low interference.

-- Post media critic Margaret Sullivan: “I give [Holt] a solid B-minus in this Mission Impossible. He pushed back some; not enough. [He] provided some realtime fact checking but let Trump go off on tangents and repeat too many proven lies… [He] didn't make himself the story, and was dignified, if medium-weak and sometimes absent.”

-- Giuliani criticized Holt for characterizing New York’s former "stop-and-frisk" policy as unconstitutional: "I think it's outrageous that Lester Holt interfered in a legal discussion he knows nothing about on the side of Hillary Clinton,” Giuliani told reporters. “And I didn't see him once interfere on the side of [Trump]. He should be ashamed of himself."

-- Conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt: "Conservatives should agree [Holt] did a very fine job moderating. He pushed on birther issue and Iraq war but gave plenty of time.”

-- Politico’s Ben White: “One clear winner tonight: @LesterHoltNBC. Did not make himself the story. Inserted himself when necessary. #debatenight”

-- But Trump himself praised Holt in the spin room after the debate, telling reporters he thought he did a “great job.” “I thought the questions were very fair,” Trump said.

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

Gyaltsen Norbu, the Chinese government-appointed replacement for the Dalai Lama (Purbu Zhaxi/Xinhua via AP)

-- “China prepares for Dalai Lama’s death by looking to its own top Tibetan cleric,” by Simon Denyer in Lhasa, China: “In the contest for Tibetan hearts and minds, a 26-year-old Buddhist monk is emerging into the spotlight. He is the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama, and he is being groomed by the Communist Party to fill an important political and religious role in Tibet. Obedient to the party and loyal to the Chinese state, the ‘Chinese Panchen’ is being pushed forward as an alternative to the Dalai Lama. … [And] there is no doubt that, with the Dalai Lama now 81, the contest for Tibet is entering a new phase, and decades of Communist Party preparation for the older monk’s eventual demise are gathering pace. Officially at least, the Panchen Lama will become the most important religious figure in Tibet when the Dalai Lama dies — that is, until the older monk’s reincarnation is found. And he will also play a key role in the Chinese government’s efforts to install a new Dalai Lama who is more amenable to Communist Party rule than the current one.”

BATTLEGROUNDS:

-- A U.S. appeals court will leave proof-of-citizenship voting requirements to federal elections agencies rather than individual states. The 2-to-1 written opinion comes after Kansas, Alabama and Georgia were all barred from adding a proof-of-citizenship requirement to their ballots. (Spencer S. Hsu)

-- A Wason Center poll found Clinton up 10 points in Virginia (48-38).

-- Portland Press Herald, “For the first time, it looks like Maine’s electoral votes will be split,” by Scott Thistle: “For the first time in Maine history, voters are poised to split the state’s four Electoral College votes between the top two candidates running for the White House. [Trump] has a commanding 15-point lead in the state’s northern and more rural 2nd District, while [Clinton] has an even bigger 21-point lead in the state’s more urban and southern 1st District … With only seven weeks remaining before the election, only 59 percent of voters said they definitely know who they’ll vote for, up only eight points from the newspaper’s poll in June, when 51 percent of voters said they had made up their minds.

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Zignal Labs tracked more than 500,000 tweets during Monday night's debate. Trump's climate change positions dominated much of the Twitter chatter during the first half of the face-off, while tweets around Clinton focused on her TPP flip-flop. Things became more scattered during the debate's second half.

The top three most-Tweeted moments: 1. Trump says he has good temperament; 2. Trump comments on stop-and-frisk; 3. Trump and Clinton exchange words over plan for defeating ISIS.

Here are the most frequently mentioned issues related to each candidate during the full 90-minute debate:

Facebook says the most-buzzed-about moment on its platform was also when Trump said, “My strongest asset is my temperament.” The top issues on the social network were: 1. Taxes; 2. ISIS; 3. Racial Issues; 4. The Economy; 5. Crime & Criminal Justice.

The gloves are off -- Harry Reid called Trump a racist:

Hofstra University misspelled Clinton's first name on the tickets:

The understatement of the night:

Trump either said "big league" or "bigly," depending on your hearing:

A fact check from the dictionary:

Seamless picked up on the news of the night for people ordering takeout at home:

Retired Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) is always worth following on debate nights:

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) brought up Clinton's health:

Here's Philippe Reines, who played Trump in Clinton's debate preparations, imitating the GOP nominee:

Democratic women from the House got together for a watch party:

The police department for the University of Kansas had this warning:

Trump's website crashed minutes after the debate started:

Trump insisted that he never said this, but this remains on his Twitter feed:

Rick Perry hoped "Dancing with the Stars" viewers would tune in for his performance:

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) joked about not watching the debate:

Sasse's likely rival for the Republican nomination in 2020, meanwhile, lauded Trump's performance:

Commentary among Republican elites was not good for Trump:

Rosie had some choice words for The Donald on her Twitter feed (she says she wasn't watching the debate):

A Republican congressman sent a text message to Luntz, but the Republican consultant disagreed:

A few thoughts from National Review's David French, who considered an independent run for president against Trump:

Twitter was not happy with this comment from former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum:

Example:

Another smile-related tweet:

A few reactions from Trump's side:

But Trump whiffed when his moment came.

Here's Donald Trump Jr. before the debate:

What some journalists were saying--

From the editor of Inside Michigan Politics:

The BBC's political correspondent:

Alicia Machado -- the beauty pageant contestant who Trump called "Miss Piggy" -- affirmed her support for Clinton.

The Clinton campaign released this video with Machado:

A dispatch from a Marco Rubio adviser:

People on Twitter -- including Howard Dean! -- wondered about the reason for Trump's sniffing:

From actor and former White House aide Kal Penn:

Celebrities offered their support for HRC:

A sendoff for the night:

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“ATF drug stings targeted minorities, report finds,” from USA Today: “A new report has found ‘strong, consistent and statistically significant’ evidence that federal gun agents singled out minorities for controversial drug stings in Chicago. Agents lured suspects with the promise of a huge payday for robbing a drug ‘stash house’ that did not actually exist, then left them facing long prison sentences for plotting to resell the imaginary drugs. [But] an investigation ... found that the stings overwhelmingly targeted minorities. At least 91% of the people agents charged nationwide were racial or ethnic minorities. The ATF stings are particularly sensitive because they seek to enlist suspected criminals in new crimes … giving agents unusually wide latitude to select who will be targeted.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“KU bars gorillas from jungle-theme decoration due to 'masculine image,’” from Campus Reform: “An RA at the University of Kansas was advised against incorporating an image of a gorilla into a jungle-themed floor decoration because the animal apparently represents ‘a very masculine image.’ In an email ... a university employee with the school’s student housing department writes to a resident advisor … to explain to him that he cannot use an image of a gorilla for a routine floor decoration. ‘I think it would be best if your floor chose a different theme animal to be more inclusive,’ Assistant Complex Director Dale Morrow wrote … ‘First, gorillas represent a very masculine image, and I feel that this would not be inclusive to all of our residents on that floor.’ Morrow went on to add that images of a gorilla could reinforce ‘stereotypes,’ but fails to stipulate exactly what sorts of stereotypes he is referring to.”

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- New York Times, “Kerr Putney, Charlotte Chief, Had Cause in His Life to Distrust Police,” by Richard Fausset and Alan Blinder: “Kerr Putney, who 15 months ago was sworn in as Charlotte’s second black police chief, has spoken openly of his own lingering, lifelong distrust of the police. He has invoked the ‘racist bigoted history’ in American policing. And he has publicly stated that he believes his father’s death was an unacknowledged murder, one poorly investigated by officials in his hometown … because police there ‘didn’t care about the value of a black life.’  In short, little in his life has led naturally to this moment when he has become the prime target of protesters, who gathered in a church here on Monday to demand his resignation and to claim that he was protecting his officers at the expense of [justice for Keith Lamont Scott]. … [And] for some of his allies, it has been painful to watch a man whom they have seen as committed to fairness — and particularly the rights of minorities — portrayed by critics as a foe of social justice.”

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: Clinton holds a rally in Raleigh, N.C. Kaine is in Orlando. Trump campaigns in Melbourne, Fla. Pence is in Waukesha, Wis.

At the White House: Obama participates in a DNC roundtable. Biden speaks at a Hillary for America campaign event at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate meets at 10 a.m to resume work on the legislative vehicle for the short-term CR. The House meets at 12 p.m. to work on the CO-OP Consumer Protection Act and the Water Resources Development Act. Last votes on the bill and three suspension measures expected between 5 and 6 p.m.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“She tells you how to fight ISIS on her website. I don't think Gen. Douglas MacArthur would like that too much.” -- Donald Trump

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- A.M. showers and afternoon sunshine ahead, per today’s Capital Weather Gang forecast: “Showers essentially end in the early morning commuting window with clouds continuing up until about midday. Rainfall totals from overnight into the morning should range from a quarter inch to a half inch, locally heavier especially south and east of the city. Partly to mostly sunny skies break out this afternoon, allowing highs to pop into the lower to middle 70s range.”

-- The Nationals lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks 14-4.

-- The Washington Monument will be closed indefinitely because of ongoing problems with its elevator. Officials didn’t specify how long the monument will be closed but said that more information will be released in the next couple of weeks. (Dana Hedgpeth and Michael E. Ruane)

-- A group of protesters blocked New York and New Jersey avenues during Monday rush hour, briefly stopping traffic as they protested the police shooting of 31-year-old Terrence Sterling earlier this month. (Clarence Williams)

-- “One man’s quest to preserve the haunting black history of Pocahontas Island,” by Gregory S. Schneider: “The collection of modest homes, tucked between an empty lumber factory and an abandoned rail yard, doesn’t look like a rare and haunted place. But in Richard Stewart’s eyes, Pocahontas Island is alive with an unexpectedly dramatic past. Pocahontas Island — 70 acres in the middle of the Appomattox River next to downtown Petersburg — is home to one of the oldest African American communities in the U.S. ‘The richness of the soil and its history — can’t no money replace that,’ [Stewart said]. A retired federal worker, Stewart, 72, has used his pension and a little family money to buy several properties on Pocahontas Island and create a homespun historical park. It’s solitary, back-breaking work. He cuts the grass, patches walls, even reframes collapsed roofs. He [even] installed a Black History Museum in one of his houses … If his work seems a little frantic, that’s because Stewart is trying to capture something even well-funded museums struggle to conjure: the soul of a place.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Watch Rudy Giuliani kiss Miriam Adelson's hand:

Here are 58 times Trump sniffed during the debate in a two-and-a-half-minute supercut:

A female TV anchor cursed out another reporter during a pre-debate scrum:

Will and Grace fans, rejoice: the cast reunited to film a new scene about the 2016 election:

Check out this viral dance-off between the candidates (the dancing starts around 2:00 and Obama makes an appearance at 4:00):

Crowds greeted Prince William and Kate in Vancouver:

Check out the skydivers in North Korea's first air show:

Here's a great SNL throwback from 2012 -- the "Undecided Voters":