In Frank Luntz’s focus group during last week’s presidential debate, 16 participants said Hillary Clinton won and six said Trump did. In a separate focus group Luntz conducted in Ohio last night for CBS News, 22 said the Indiana governor prevailed and four said the Virginia senator did.
In CNN-ORC’s instant poll, 48 percent of voters who watched the showdown at Longwood University in Farmville said the Republican did a better job, while 42 percent said the Democrat did. “About two-thirds of debate-watchers said Pence's performance was better than they expected, just 14% said he did worse than they thought he would. Reviews of Kaine tilted toward the negative, with 43% saying he did worse than they expected,” per polling director Jennifer Agiesta. (See the methodology here.)
-- It may not matter: “Overall it was an unsatisfying, disjointed debate,” Dan Balz writes. “It probably changed few minds and no doubt brought some encouragement to the bases of the two parties. In that way, it was a typical vice-presidential debate.”
Validating this notion, a trio of Wall Street Journal reporters surveyed undecided voters in Northern Virginia afterward, and apparently the debate swayed none of them.
-- But here are six overarching themes emerging from the voluminous coverage:
1. There is near consensus that Kaine was off-putting. He came across as chirpy, condescending and rude. He mostly avoided eye contact with Pence, which made him look shifty. He nervously gulped a few times. He tried to pack too much into every answer, talking fast so he could make his points before he was interrupted by the moderator or Pence. He bungled some zingers that could have been memorable.
John Wagner, who has been covering Kaine since he got tapped as Clinton’s number two in July, thinks he was simply trying too hard: “Kaine turned in a performance that threatened to undermine the image of authenticity that has been one of his greatest strengths. The senator came across as over-rehearsed.… At one point … Kaine accused Trump of being someone who ‘loves dictators’ and then unloaded one of many canned lines of the evening, accusing Trump of having ‘a kind of personal Mount Rushmore: Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Moammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein.’ Pence, who maintained the calmer demeanor through much of the debate, was able to easily parry, asking Kaine: ‘Did you work on that one a long time?’”
While Clinton was happy to give Trump rope to let him hang himself last week, Kaine felt compelled to jump in constantly. When Pence noted he was in D.C. on 9/11, for example, he interjected to say that he was in Virginia, which he noted is where the Pentagon is.
The architect of Barack Obama's 2008 and 2012 victories:
A Daily Beast reporter:
2. Like the election more broadly, Trump managed to suck up all the oxygen and the debate became largely about him — which ultimately is good news for the Clinton campaign. While Pence is receiving high marks this morning, the biggest storyline coming out of the debate is likely to be that he spent 90 minutes in A STATE OF DENIAL.
He acted incredulous when Kaine correctly pointed out that Trump has called Mexicans “rapists,” NATO “obsolete” and said women who get abortions should be punished somehow. Pence pointedly declined to defend Trump’s offensive statements about women or his racial attacks on a U.S.-born federal judge of Mexican descent, opting to change the subject.
Robert Costa says Pence was the opposite of Trump in both style and substance: “It was a dutiful, deflective and prepared performance for a campaign that rarely fits that description. Beneath the smooth patter, however, there were significant cracks with Trump … that showcased how far Pence’s instincts stray from Trump’s.”
Amber Phillips writes that “Pence spent most of the debate defending a Trump that doesn’t exist.”
National Review Executive Editor Rich Lowry argues that he won but with this caveat: “Pence evidently decided to pretend that he is on a ticket with an utterly conventional Republican … [and his] sidestepping of Trump is the big asterisk on his night.”
Pence’s prep team clearly recognized that actually defending Trump across the board would lead to an unwinnable quagmire. So he repeatedly fibbed and pretended like Trump has never said things that he’s said on video tape. And in a case of the pot calling the kettle black, Pence repeatedly attacked Kaine and Clinton for running “an insult-driven campaign.” But he did it with a smile.
A writer for Yahoo News:
A ProPublica reporter:
-- On foreign policy especially, Pence’s talking points underscored just how far outside the GOP mainstream Trump remains. Pence said the United States should be willing to attack the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and he called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a small and bullying leader.”
The executive editor of The Weekly Standard:
A Boston Globe reporter:
The head of news at Snapchat:
The chief foreign correspondent for NBC News:
A Huffington Post reporter:
-- Indeed, The Post’s Fact Checkers had a field day. Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee round up 25 suspicious or otherwise notable claims, including some doozies from both candidates. (Read them all here.)
– All these inconsistencies could add to be a really big deal — IF cable focuses on them. Since relatively few people will have watched last night’s debate compared to last week’s, after-the-fact coverage could have an outsize impact. Some of the initial coverage, however, suggests that the focus might be more on style than substance.
As David Gergen put it on CNN, “Pence will not fare well with fact checkers, but his poise and polish played well with voters,” For better or worse, style counts a lot in these debates.”
“From the very beginning, Pence was the more comfortable of the two men on the debate stage. The Indiana governor was calm, cool and collected throughout,” Chris Cillizza writes, explaining why he declared him the winner.
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni might capture the zeitgeist best: “It wasn’t exactly a vivid performance, but it was an eerily consistent one, and it answered the question of how a man who supposedly prides himself on his virtue defends a running mate who is often bereft of it. He sets his jaw. He slows his pulse. He practices a bemused chuckle, perfects deafness to anything he prefers not to hear and purges from his memory anything he doesn’t want to own. That included the whole grotesque cornucopia of Trump’s slurs and bad behavior, which [Kaine] had studied up on exhaustively, knew by heart and kept throwing at Pence, pressing for the barest glimmer of shame or the slightest hint of apology. It was pointless — a point that Kaine himself made about an hour into this exercise in futility. Substantively, it was galling. Strategically, it may well have worked.”
3. But, but, but: Pence overshadowed Trump in many ways, and this may cause friction within the campaign.
Dana Milbank reports that Pence’s performance gave Republicans a fresh case of “buyer’s remorse”: “In the few months since he accepted Trump’s tap, Pence has become the Servpro of the 2016 election, constantly cleaning up after Trump when the presidential nominee, say, attacks a Gold Star family. A running mate’s usual task in a debate, and in a presidential campaign generally, is to assure the public that he or she could take over if the unthinkable occurs. In Pence’s case, there’s no question about his fitness to serve. The question is whether Trump is prepared to serve. That Pence could be a heartbeat from the presidency makes pulse rates calm. That Trump could be president causes tachycardia.”
New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait adds, “Pence provided an evening of escapist fantasy for conservative intellectuals who like to close their eyes and imagine their party has nominated a qualified, normal person for president. It is hard to see how he helped the cause of electing the actual nominee.”
BuzzFeed's political editor:
“Pence made Trump look worse by comparison to his VP selection," conservative Post blogger Jennifer Rubin argues. Trump is more ignorant, erratic, boorish and unethical than Pence — by a mile. Pence very likely could have beaten Clinton — if Trump were not on the ticket.”
Vox’s Matthew Yglesias says Pence won precisely because he threw Trump under the bus: “If Kaine and Pence had been debating for an Ohio Senate seat, any fair-minded person would have to conclude that Pence won in a landslide. The problem, obviously, is that they aren’t.… They’re running for vice president. Or at least Tim Kaine is. That’s why he loyally defended Clinton when Pence hit the Clinton Foundation issue instead of pivoting away to his own talking points. He played the somewhat awkward role of loyal number two. Pence, by contrast, focused on making Pence look good and happily left Trump’s eccentricities on the cutting board.”
-- This sort of analysis has reportedly upset Trump.
From the chief Washington correspondent for CNBC:
“Being upstaged and ignored is not something to which Trump typically responds well,” Business Insider’s Josh Barro notes.
As Harwood’s tweet blew up, Trump’s social media director posted a picture of Trump calling Pence:
-- The divergence between Trump and Pence on the issues also draws fresh attention to how little juice the latter has within the campaign. “No one believes Pence has Trump’s ear,” Ezra Klein writes on Vox. “If Trump had added Pence to the ticket as part of a pivot toward a more Pence-style doctrinaire conservatism, then he would have made that pivot months ago. [But] Pence’s purpose on the ticket is as Trump’s ambassador to the Republican Party. It’s Pence who keeps GOP heavyweights like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell hopeful that a Trump win might lead to a conservative presidency. [His] role in the Trump campaign is that of a salesman.… Trump himself has been at pains to signal his disinterest in Pence’s advice.… The message has long been clear: Pence may be useful to Trump, but he’s an employee, and not a particularly valued one at that.”
4. To be sure, Pence certainly helped reassure some jittery Republicans looking for justifications to support Trump. In so doing, Pence also boosted his own 2020 ambitions.
“Many Republican-leaning voters just want to be reassured there's a stable person near Trump,” writes The Atlantic’s Molly Ball.
New York Magazine’s Andrew Sullivan says Pence did what he needed to do after Donald’s loss in the first debate: “What Trump needs desperately is someone to assure the nervous middle that there will be a grown-up in the Oval Office next to the tantrum-throwing toddler. It was very effective, I’d say, on that count.”
But there’s a limit to what he can do. “Pence won’t be able to sand away Trump’s rougher edges over the final two presidential debates, and the final five weeks of the campaign,” said ABC News political director Rick Klein. “But he may have steadied his ticket’s slide — even, at the end, knitting together some optimism for Trump.”
“There’s one clear winner in this debate: Pence’s presidential hopes,” writes the New Republic’s Laura Reston. “Over the last few months, Pence has done a masterful job of remaining loyal to Trump in public, all while distancing himself from the nominee on issues that have traditionally been important to the Republican electorate … [and] tonight was no different. From almost the first moment, Pence touted his own humble roots and his record in Indiana and in Congress. When forced to defend Trump on his tax returns, for example, he did, but for the most part, he pivoted quickly back to his own achievements.” If he launches a presidential bid in 2020, she argues, he’ll now have a big leg up on rest of the field — in the unique position to unite disillusioned Trump supporters as well as his typical base of religious evangelical voters.
Not everyone agrees – from Jeb’s communications director:
5. Crazy like a fox? Perhaps the junior senator from Virginia accomplished exactly what he set out to:
Many pundits insist that maybe Kaine was not trying to look good:
The managing editor of the Los Angeles Times:
A Huffington Post reporter:
An influential conservative talk radio host in Wisconsin:
“Kaine was an effective surrogate for Clinton, and Pence was an effective surrogate for conservatism,” writes the New Yorker’s Benjamin Wallace-Wells. “One good way to score the debate is to say that everybody won except for Trump himself. What you make of that probably depends on how you think about political loyalty.”
There were areas where Pence was vulnerable to attack. It is not out of the question he would have lost reelection as governor of Indiana had Trump not tapped him. But Kaine had no desire to challenge the overly rosy picture his opponent painted of the Hoosier State. He was focused on Trump.
6. The moderator might have been the biggest loser of the night. Elaine Quijano cut off what could have been fruitful exchanges about a host of issues and did not go off script to ask obvious follow-up questions.
She also failed to maintain control, which made it painful to watch. “According to the transcript, the debate devolved into indecipherable ‘crosstalk’ 32 times,” McKay Coppins tabulates on BuzzFeed.
Politico’s Glenn Thrush called the debate “less a game-changer than a channel-changer”: “Tuesday marked the first time a digital division reporter moderated a major debate, and Quijano … showed her inexperience. She allowed both candidates to repeatedly interrupt each other, at times seeming to whisper her questions and demands for decorum.”
Roll Call’s Walter Shapiro compares watching the debate to taking a valium: “It was an homage to the days when political parties nominated candidates as flashy as Michael Dukakis and Bob Dole.”
There was consistent criticism from journalists, as well as across the ideological spectrum from left to right:
-- More trouble ahead? Page Six’s Emily Smith reports this morning that CNN and ABC are feuding over details of their jointly hosted presidential debate, with rival anchors Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz battling it out over who gets to grill each candidate on the most blistering topics. “Sources describe the DC meetings among ABC and CNN producers, the on-air talent and network brass ahead of Sunday’s presidential debate as ‘acrimonious at best.’ Said another: ‘There won’t be just two presidential egos in the room on the next debate night, there will be four.’”
The candidates traded Bible verses at the end:
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- “It is not out of the question Matthew could strike Florida’s East Coast as a Category 3 or stronger hurricane late Thursday or Friday," Brian McNoldy, Angela Fritz and Jason Samenow report, which would end a "record-long streak of more than a decade in which the U.S. has avoided a landfalling hurricane so strong.” Matthew barreled across the eastern tip of Cuba overnight and will reach the Bahamas today. "It could close-in on Florida as soon as early Thursday, with a devastating combination of damaging winds, torrential rain and storm surge. Model forecasts have continued to shift Matthew’s track closer to Florida’s east coast. ... Matthew may then charge up the Southeastern coast toward the Mid-Atlantic into the weekend – although there’s a chance it meanders offshore. ... States of emergency had been declared in Florida and South Carolina, and for 13 counties in coastal Georgia, and 66 counties in central and eastern North Carolina."
Video posted on social media shows Hurricane Matthew making landfall in Haiti:
-- Yahoo began secretly scanning the emails of hundreds of millions of its users last year, crafting custom software to comply with an order from the FBI and NSA. The company’s covert operation has prompted two company security officials to leave, according to those familiar with the matter. (Andrea Peterson)
GET SMART FAST:
- A Mongolian paleontologist found what might be the largest dinosaur footprint ever discovered, stumbling upon a stunning 42-inch print during a trip to the Gobi Desert. Scientists say it is so well preserved that you can make out the animal’s claw marks! (Ben Guarino)
- John Kerry lashed out at Russia after a breakdown in efforts to restore a Syrian cease-fire agreement, accusing Moscow of “rejecting diplomacy” as devastating airstrikes in Aleppo continued. “People that are serious about pursuing peace behave differently from the way Russia has chosen how to behave,” Kerry said in Brussels, voicing bitterness. (Michael Birnbaum)
- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Barack Obama can “go to hell.” The E.U., he added, "better choose purgatory" because "hell is filled up.” Duterte’s unhinged statements come as world leaders react to a wave of extrajudicial violence in the country. More than 3,000 Filipinos have been killed by the state since he took office in July. (Emily Rauhala)
- The Obama administration is considering an Adopt-a-Refugee plan that would let citizens sponsor a refugee from a country of their choice by paying for airfare, housing, food and other resettlement costs. The idea is inspired by a similar effort in Canada. (Bloomberg)
- Hundreds of migrants stranded in Serbia are marching toward Hungary, embarking on a 120-mile trek as they sought to protest the country's closed border. Serbian police warn they will no longer tolerate such incidents, adding “laws have to be respected by all.” (AP)
- The ROTC has overhauled its weapon training procedure at college campuses across the country, after cadet drills at multiple campuses were mistaken for active-shooter scenarios. (T. Rees Shapiro)
- A Russian furniture store is selling a bed frame resembling the surface-to-air missile system that is believed to have shot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane over Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers on board. (David Filipov)
- Twitter is expected to field bids from potential buyers today, the latest sign that the social media giant could soon be up for sale. Salesforce.com is among the bidders. Google and Walt Disney are also considering making an offer. (Wall Street Journal)
- Scientists Jean-Pierre Sauvage, J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa were awarded the Nobel chemistry prize for building the world’s tiniest machines – consisting of specially designed molecules that can be manipulated when energy is added. The so-called “molecular machines” are 1,000 times thinner than a strand of human hair, and are believed to be the tiny unseen engines that will one day power our future. (Sarah Kaplan)
- President Obama slams Senate Republicans for not confirming Merrick Garland in a HuffPost op-ed: “In a city of self-inflicted wounds, this one is more dangerous and less defensible than most."
- A 13-foot, 1,700 pound white shark was recently located off Virginia’s coast. Scientists are thrilled, saying the mammoth-sized animal -- who they're calling “Miss Costa” -- can provide crucial insights into feeding habits and migration patterns. (Dana Hedgpeth)
-- Andrew Cuomo and Trump transition chairman Chris Christie allegedly conspired to craft a cover story to make the Bridgegate scandal go away in 2013, according to testimony from former Port Authority official David Wildstein. Under oath, he told jurors that New York's Democratic governor and the New Jersey governor spoke in October 2013, a month after the lane closures. They agreed that a report would be issued stating the lane closures were a traffic study, and that the New Jersey side of the Port Authority would accept responsibility. Then the New York head of the agency would sign off on it, he testified. Cuomo's office denies this. (Wall Street Journal)
THE DAILY HILLARY:
-- The Clinton Foundation amended its annual charitable filing with the New York Attorney General’s office, moving to disclose additional financial data about its affiliates “out of an abundance of caution.” The move came one day after Trump’s charitable foundation was told to suspend fundraising in the state. (Wall Street Journal)
-- Former vice president Al Gore will being stumping for Clinton, joining the Democratic nominee on the campaign trail as he seeks to help her galvanize young voters, especially those who see climate change as a critical issue. (Juliet Eilperin has the details.)
-- A federal judge has rejected a conservative group's legal effort to obtain the draft of an indictment of Hillary in Whitewater. Clinton was never charged, and the court said the nominee’s “substantial privacy interest” outweighs any public interest in disclosure. (Politico)
-- New evidence that Putin is waging an active campaign of deception to hurt HRC: A hacker known as “Guccifer 2.0” claimed to have published files hacked from the Clinton Foundation, including spreadsheets appearing to show corporate money being funneled to politicians and a file titled “pay for play,” the Daily Beast’s Shane Harris reports. The files look conspicuously corrupt, and their presentation seems designed to confirm long-standing suspicions about Clinton’s nonprofit organization. But there’s a problem. The Clinton Foundation president said the documents aren’t theirs, and there’s no evidence that the organization’s networks were breached. So, is this the October surprise Clinton’s opponents have been expecting? Or is it the next stage in what U.S. officials suspect is an ongoing campaign to meddle with the election? Security experts say that whomever is behind the online facade is likely an agent working for Russia. Guccifer 2.0 is also suspected of being the source of the hacked DNC emails to WikiLeaks.” If this email dump is the real surprise promised by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, he may have to work harder to prove it.
THE DAILY DONALD:
-- Eric Trump said his father “absolutely” has paid federal income taxes over the last 18 years, telling CNN’s Dana Bash that he has studied the returns for himself. "Of course, yes, absolutely. My father pays a tremendous amount of tax, we as a company pay a tremendous amount of tax," he said in the spin room at Longwood University. But he repeatedly demurred on whether he was referring to taxes paid by the Trump Corporation or by his father personally: “My father pays a tremendous amount of tax, as a company, as a company we pay a tremendous amount of tax and goes so far beyond federal income taxes,” he reiterated. "So if we see your father's income taxes, it will show he's paid federal income taxes?" Bash pressed. "There's no question about it, we pay tremendous taxes as a company," Eric said, again dodging the question.
But in another interview, he maintained that his father should not release his tax returns, saying that the media would “obsess” over them: “They would go through every single page for the last 400 years and they would make issue of everything,” the younger Trump told Maine’s WGAN. “You almost couldn’t at this point.”
A senior editor at The Daily Beast:
Mitt Romney's chief strategist in 2012:
-- As Trump slumps in the polls and spins from one controversy to another, many of his supporters are angrier at Clinton than ever before. From Jenna Johnson: “For years, they have not liked or trusted her … and the nine days since Trump’s poor debate performance have only confirmed and intensified their feelings. At several recent Trump rallies, anti-Clinton sentiment felt stronger than ever as attendees screamed out nicknames and criticisms of her, erupted in chants of ‘Lock her up!’ and angrily accused reporters of promoting her candidacy. Trump supporters have long worn shirts or buttons labeling Clinton a ‘b----,’ but there’s a new T-shirt popping up at recent events with an even harsher message: ‘I wish Clinton had married O.J.,’ the former football star who was acquitted in 1995 on charges that he murdered his ex-wife." [One might call this sort of thing deplorable...]
"In interviews at recent battleground state rallies, Trump supporters ... shared conspiracy theories they read online about Clinton’s health, sex life and whether she had outside help during the debate. 'I believe she’s a communist,' Jim Denlinger, 47, said at Pennsylvania rally. 'She also has done so many illegal things. There are 48 people who are dead around the Clintons … If you look at each case, it’s suspicious. I think the Clintons are a very spooky couple.'"
-- Pence may have won the debate, but so far Kaine has emerged victorious in the fundraising battle: Trump’s campaign said the Indiana governor has raised some $10 million on behalf of their joint committee with the RNC through mid-September. Kaine has more than doubled these numbers – bringing in a haul of at least $27 million – and “likely much more” – on behalf of the Democratic nominee, Politico’s Matthew Nussbaum and Burgess Everett report. “Whereas Kaine, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, is a force multiplier for the Clinton fundraising machine, Pence has been working to assuage major donors offended by Trump, assuring some of them that the GOP nominee is a different person in private than his bombastic stage presence might suggest.”
-- RNC Chairman Reince Priebus declared that Trump is a “role model,” doubling down on a gaffe that Sen. Kelly Ayotte has since walked back. He said the nominee has a business record and a life story that kids "can look up to”: “When you look at someone who has built businesses, lost businesses, came back, lived the American dream, a person who sets goals, he's a winner,” Priebus said on Fox News. Ayotte, who came under fire on Monday for implying children could look up to the real estate developer, has since issued a statement saying she “misspoke.” (Politico)
-- Democrats continued to seize on Trump’s suggestion that veterans with mental health issues are “not strong” and “can’t handle it." A visibly emotional Joe Biden eviscerated Trump, calling him an “ignorant man” as he recounted a tale of pinning a Silver Star on a young U.S. soldier in Iraq. The soldier told Biden that he didn’t want the Silver Star because the fellow soldier he had pulled out of a burning Humvee had died. “That kid probably goes to sleep every night with a nightmare, and this guy doesn’t understand any of that? How can he not understand that? How can he be so out of touch?” said Biden, whose late son served in the military. “He’s not a bad guy, but how can he be so out of touch and ask to lead this country?”
Trump’s comments are just the latest in a long line of questionable remarks he's made about members of the military. From Katie Zezima: The Republican nominee’s high-profile feud with the Muslim American parents of a soldier slain in Iraq dominated headlines this summer. And days later, when a Trump supporter gifted him with a Purple Heart at a Virginia campaign rally, Trump lauded the award as something he “always wanted.” The honor was “much easier” than participating in combat, he quipped. (Trump got five draft deferments to avoid serving in Vietnam, and he's joked that sleeping around New York City and avoiding sexually-transmitted infections was his "personal Vietnam."
-- The New York Times’ Adam Liptak says Trump would have a hard time suing the paper for publishing parts of his tax returns, citing the precedent set in the 2001 case of Bartnicki v. Vopper. Any effort to punish “publication of truthful information of public concern,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority, “implicates the core purposes of the First Amendment.” That is so even if someone broke the law in providing information to a news organization, Stevens wrote. “A stranger’s illegal conduct does not suffice to remove the First Amendment shield from speech about a matter of public concern.” Several experts tell Liptak there is “no conceivable basis” for action against the paper.” “This is open-and-shut,” one said.
-- “Boston bank felt effects when Trump hit early debt,” by The Globe's Beth Healy: “It was 1988, and the buttoned-down bankers of the venerable Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Co. were clinking champagne glasses with [Trump] on his 282-foot luxury yacht as it cruised around Boston Harbor. The bankers … had just signed a loan to provide the real estate mogul financing to buy the Trump Princess yacht for $29 million. Purchased from a billionaire Saudi arms dealer, the ocean-going vessel featured a disco, a helicopter pad, a swimming pool, and a three-room hospital. The loan was a risky leap into the go-go ’80s for staid Boston Safe, which for more than a century made its money managing the fortunes of old New England families. It was also the bank’s entry into Trump’s glitzy, high-rolling world, which in just a few years would all but collapse." The Boston Safe loans were small in the scheme of Trump’s vast borrowing binge. Yet they injected the Boston bank into the scrum of lenders fighting to get their money back in the early 1990s.
-- Michelle Obama eviscerated Trump during a North Carolina rally for his perpetual failure to take personal responsibility for his own actions. “When [Clinton] gets knocked down, she doesn’t complain,” the first lady said. “She doesn’t cry foul. No, she gets right back up, comes back stronger for the people who needs her most.” She also denounced his treatment of former Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado: "A president can’t just pop off or lash out irrationally,” she said. “And I think we can all agree that someone who’s roaming around at 3 a.m. tweeting should not have their fingers on the nuclear codes!" (HuffPost)
-- Bill Clinton continues his Ohio bus tour today, swinging through small towns and working-class corners of southeastern Ohio. From Anne Gearan: The former president called Trump a “charlatan” who exploits the disappointments of the white working class, which he reminded his audience he himself was born into. “Hillary’s opponent is just about the best I ever saw at rubbing salt in open wounds. He’s really good at it,” he said. The former president then moved on to enumerate his wife’s many plans — for jobs, college costs, health care and much more. “I want to talk about why you should be for Hillary and why you should be for yourselves and why you ought to be optimistic about the future,” he said.
-- A Monmouth University poll shows Clinton up 10 points in Pennsylvania (50-40).
- 90 percent of Democrats in the state support her, while just 75 percent of Republicans support Trump.
- The two are neck-and-neck among whites, with 46 percent supporting Clinton and 45 percent for Trump. While 55 percent of white women back Clinton, 57 percent of white men support Trump.
- Republican Sen. Pat Toomey and Democratic challenger Katie McGinty are tied at 46 percent.
-- A Time/SurveyMonkey poll finds that women are much more likely to say they are “scared” about the election. While 53 percent of female voters say they are fearful about the presidential race, just 37 percent of men do.
-- “Clinton Campaign Encouraged By Early Latino And Black Ballot Requests In FL, N.C.,” by Buzzfeed's Adrian Carrasquillo and Darren Sands: In the spin room before the debate, Clinton’s staff outlined the latest numbers on early voting:
- The number of Hispanic voters requesting vote by mail ballots in Florida up a 73 percent since this point in 2012. In North Carolina, there are 84,000 more black voters registered than at the same point in 2012 and 52,000 more Hispanic voters.
- There is also a 73 percent increase in requests for absentee ballots by Asian-American voters and a 43 percent increase in Latino ballot requests compared to the same point in 2012.
- All told, there are 359,000 more black voters in battleground states than in 2012. There are 660,000 more Latino voters; 294,000 more voters aged 18 to 35; and 125,000 more registered Democrats.
-- Gary Johnson finds a fresh way to show how out of his depth he is every day. He defended his embarrassing lack of basic foreign policy knowledge on MSNBC yesterday by arguing that expertise on global affairs “is what leads to military conflict”: “You know what? The fact that somebody can dot the i’s and cross the t’s on a foreign leader’s geographic location then allows them to put our military in harm’s way,” the former New Mexico governor told Andrea Mitchell. His remarks come after the Libertarian presidential nominee made two widely-panned foreign policy gaffes on national television, failing to recognize Syria’s largest city before being unable to name a foreign leader he admired. (Politico)
-- “A tale of two Syrias, told by drones,” by Ishaan Tharoor: Last week, two videos shot by drone of the same city showed the parallel universes that exist within Syria's miserable, grinding civil war. The first footage emerged from Aleppo’s ravaged eastern region, where districts under control of rebel factions have been mercilessly bombed by both Syrian and Russian-backed airstrikes. “Yet, on the other side of town, there's a very different picture. Footage uploaded [by] the Syrian Tourism Ministry … reveals a western Aleppo that is pristine and shielded from war. The parks are verdant and lush, the streets are bustling with traffic, and its historic sites are intact and shimmering on a sunny, cloudless day. Last week, as eastern Aleppo faced a night-long blitz from warplanes above, the state's news agency posted a video about Aleppo's supposedly ‘thriving nightlife.' The agitprop sparked widespread derision outside the country ... [and in] rebel-held areas, a grim, nihilistic fatalism has set in. ‘People don’t know what to do or where to go,’ said one resident. 'There is no escape. It is like the end of the world.'"
-- “In Duterte’s Philippines, here’s how one man survived when a death squad came after him,” by Emily Rauhala: “Francisco Santiago is a rare and dangerous thing in a state-led killing rampage: a witness. In the early hours of Sept. 13 … Santiago was shot through the chest and arms in what Philippine police called a drug bust gone wrong but that Santiago insists was a setup. When the bullets hit, he played dead, lying still until he felt the bright lights of the media upon him. With cameras rolling, he raised his blood-slick arms in surrender — alive, for now.” President Duterte swept to power in June promising war, and he has delivered. In the past three months, more than 3,300 people are dead, gunned down in police raids and by unknown assailants. Victims include suspected drug dealers, people misidentified as such, and at least two children, ages 4 and 5. “Bodies are hastily pulled from crime scenes or dumped in ditches, often alongside cardboard signs that say ‘pusher’ — as if a word alone were proof enough. Eyewitnesses to killings stay silent, terrified that they could be targeted next.”
-- “This ISIS defector said he was an innocent bystander. A new video questions his story,” by Souad Mekhennet and Greg Miller: “Since his arrest on terrorism charges, German militant Harry Sarfo has been an unusually talkative [ISIS] recruit, granting interviews from prison that were carried on front pages and news broadcasts across Europe and the United States. German authorities permitted the access to Sarfo, whose story seemed to represent such a cautionary tale.” He described the group’s efforts to enlist him for plots in Europe, always emphasizing that he spurned these approaches before escaping. But in depicting himself as a disillusioned fighter who refused to commit violence, Sarfo left out some potentially incriminating scenes: “[New] video shows Sarfo moving doomed hostages into position for a public execution in Palmyra last year … [apparently firing his own weapon before] raising his fist in celebration at the burst of machine-gun fire.” The footage is at odds with almost every account Sarfo, 28, has given, and serves as an alarming example of how little European security services know about hundreds of militants returning to the continent after fighting in Syria.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Rudy Giuliani and Roger Ailes were spotted smoking cigar in an SUV in New York City:
Here's a sample of Trump's live tweets during the debate:
Meanwhile, Clinton trolled Pence:
An oops moment from Pence at the beginning:
The RNC posted its post-election content declaring victory for Pence before the debate started:
And here are a few comparisons that floated around during the debate:
Somebody is sending Trump swag to Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.):
Monica Lewinsky tweeted at Jake Tapper with a heart-eyed smiley face:
In case you've forgotten, Jake went on a date with Monica before the scandal broke -- and then wrote about it in the Washington City Paper in Jan. 1998.
Bill Clinton had a moving encounter on the campaign trail:
Rosie O'Donnell is tweeting about Trump:
Madonna declared support for Clinton:
Martin Heinrich celebrated Taco Day with a dig at Trump:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- New York Times, “How Colombia’s voters rejected peace,” by Jon Lee Anderson: “Every element in last week’s event was designed to symbolize the moment at which Colombia’s political battles would cease to be fought with weapons.” Everyone wore white; women and children sang songs of peace, and leaders gave rousing, sentimental speeches. The pen used to sign the accord was fashioned out of bullets. Afterwards, festive parties continued late into the night. There were invariably two toasts: one for the newly-signed peace deal, and another, optimistic one for the Yes side in the plebiscite. “As with Brexit, the polls were close, and yet most assumed that Yes would prevail. That plebiscite was the vote held Sunday, after which everything that was celebrated in Cartagena was thrown into an anxious limbo, including the major question of whether the current ceasefire … will hold, or if the war will resume.” Shortly after the vote count came in, a tearful Colombian woman talked about leaving the country. “First Brexit, now this,” she said. "This means Trump is going to win in the United States. What will you do?"
-- “Even the Supreme Court is keeping up with the Kim Kardashian robbery,” the New York Daily News reports. “Justice Stephen Breyer pondered about the reality star’s Paris jewelry theft during a Tuesday argument about an obscure bank fraud case. Kim K. made her way into the argument over the case of Lawrence Shaw, a California man convicted of stealing more than $300,000 from a Taiwanese businessman's Bank of America bank account. Shaw’s attorney argued that he should have his federal bank fraud conviction overturned because Bank of America did not lose any money in the scam. Breyer and Bell got into a debate about whether having insurance on property changes the intent of a theft. Cue the Kardashians. ‘Even Kardashian's thief, if there is one, believes that all that jewelry is insured,’ Breyer said, hinting at some skepticism about the $10 million jewelry theft. ‘Indeed over-insured. So it's not theft?’ When the argument move on to a debate about the nature of fraud, Breyer bought back the Kardashians. ‘I'm asking you,’ the justice said, ‘if the local person comes to the door and says, dear Miss Kardashian, I am your local jewelry cleaner. Please give me your jewelry. She does.’ That, Breyer concluded, would count as fraud.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“‘Poor Gorilla’: Teacher’s aide fired for racist Facebook posts about Michelle Obama,” from Katie Mettler: “A teacher’s aide at a Georgia elementary school has been fired after posts she wrote on Facebook surfaced last week, enraging community members and people across the country who saw her words shared widely online. In them, the aide, Jane Wood Allen, called first lady Michelle Obama a ‘gorilla’ repeatedly and said she is a ‘disgrace to America!’ according to images of the now-deleted posts obtained by local media. Many Facebook users immediately called for her termination and used the hashtag #FireJaneWoodAllen. ‘I am disgusted that this woman is an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL EMPLOYEE,’ one woman wrote on Facebook.” On Monday, the district announced the aide had been fired.
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Conservative Surrounded At KU, Screamed At, Told To Leave School,” from the Daily Caller: “Members of a conservative group at the University of Kansas (KU) were surrounded at one of their own meetings and berated by opponents who urged them to leave the school, new video shows. Two weeks ago, several progressives attended a Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter meeting to defend the use of safe spaces and accuse group members of being white supremacists. The discussion repeatedly grew heated, with one visitor having a breakdown after YAF members repeatedly failed to use her preferred gender pronoun of ‘they.’ Despite the heated environment, YAF members said the progressives were welcome to return the following week.” They certainly did so, and brought along dozens of left-leaning demonstrators who inundated the meeting, and told members to leave the school.
On the campaign trail: Trump is in Henderson and Reno, Nev., while Pence stops in Harrisonburg, Va. and Grantville, Pa. Clinton holds a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., while Bill Clinton stops in Youngstown and Canton, Ohio, Tim Kaine campaigns in Philadelphia, and Bernie Sanders makes stops in Des Moines, Iowa and Madison and Green Bay, Wis.
At the White House: Obama receives a briefing on Hurricane Matthew. Biden meets with senior advisers.
On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are out.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Stephen King, who penned the original epically terrifying clown story “It," is now trying to soothe the fears of the American people. “Hey, guys, time to cool the clown hysteria,” King said yesterday. “Most of em are good, cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh.” His remarks come in response to a spate of creepy clown sightings – with some attempting to “lure children into the woods”! – that have provoked mass hysteria. (Ben Guarino)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Another day of excellent temps ahead, the Capital Weather Gang reports: “With high pressure still in control, a mostly cloudy morning gives way to partly sunny skies by afternoon. That should help afternoon highs into the upper 60s to low 70s, with low humidity and light winds.”
-- Police are investigating a stabbing that occurred outside a D.C. public high school on East Capitol Street NE, possibly prompted by a road-rage incident. Officials issued a lookout for a black female, who is around 30 and drives a black Impala in connection with the attack. (Justin Wm. Moyer and Peter Hermann)
-- In another bizarre road rage incident, a cyclist was robbed of her iPhone 6 after jockeying for road space with another vehicle in Shaw. The two exchanged harsh words before the driver reportedly “intentionally swerved” towards her, hitting the cyclist multiple times and grabbing her phone when she threatened to call police. (Dana Hedgpeth)
-- Northern Virginia police are investigating the vandalism of a historic segregated schoolhouse for black children after it was painted with racist messages this weekend. Authorities have enlisted both the FBI and state police to aid in the search, and are offering a reward of $2,000 to anyone with information who can help crack the case. (T. Rees Shapiro)
-- Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.) has delayed funding a transit-way in upper Montgomery County, postponing construction on a nine-mile busway aimed at alleviating congestion on I-270. (Katherine Shaver)
-- An armed man who was shot in the chest while approaching a White House guard booth in May has been sentenced to prison. Officials said the 31-year-old Pennsylvania man will be allowed to serve his time at a hospital, saying he needs more time to recover from his wound and receive treatment for previously untreated mental illness. (Peter Hermann)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
This is the web video the Clinton campaign turned off last night's debate:
Stephen Colbert held a focus group of cats to see how they reacted to Kaine and Pence:
Trump is aiming his newest ad at struggling moms:
Almost 100 celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Roberts and Kendall Jenner, appeared in this PSA encouraging people to register to vote:
Michelle Obama took a subtle shot at Trump by tapping the mic at this rally (click to watch):
The Street rounded up some of the worst (or maybe best) Trump moments on the campaign trail (click to watch):
Watch InfoWars's Alex Jones (a huge Trump booster and 9/11 truther) freak out after Julian Assange failed to upend the election with the #OctoberSurprise promised by Trump's supporters:
Stephen Colbert went after Trump's billion-dollar business loss:
Adam Devine and Joe Biden taped a Funny or Die segment on campus sexual assault:
This controversial parade float depicted Trump murdering Clinton: