Donald Trump was again the center of attention during last night's debate at Washington University in St. Louis. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

With Breanne Deppisch and Elise Viebeck

THE BIG IDEA: Most politicians believed the Republican civil war would not flare up again until Nov. 9, the morning after the election. But the battle over the future of the party has arrived a month early.

Donald Trump showed during last night’s second presidential debate in St. Louis that he is willing to go down in flames, and he is happy to take down-ballot Republicans with him.

Blood is the metaphor of the morning. There is an incredible amount of talk about “bleeding” in the post-debate conversation. Literally dozens of news stories ponder whether The Donald slowed or stopped the bleeding. The emerging conventional wisdom seems to be that Trump did not cauterize the wound.

Indeed, the GOP nominee threw just enough red meat to convince hardcore loyalists to stick with Trump and thwarted efforts to push him off the ticket.

With dozens of high-profile defections over the weekend, it now feels inevitable that he will lose the election. The short-term question is how badly. The long-term question is how much damage Trump does to the brand of his adopted party.

The previous chairman of the Republican National Committee tweeted this half an hour into the debate:

-- The Republican establishment is still coming to grips with the reality that Trump cannot be replaced. Top officials acknowledge privately that Trump’s self-immolation has now put the House in play, with the very real prospect that millions of more moderate GOP voters – especially in the suburbs -- will stay home. The odds of Republicans retaining their Senate majority have dropped precipitously since Friday morning.

There is a conference call for House Republicans at 11 a.m. Eastern and another for the 168 members of the Republican National Committee at 5 p.m.

“Trump is a battered, bruised and angry candidate, and therefore more unpredictable than ever,” Dan Balz writes. “For Trump, this is a final roll of the dice. For Republicans this is about more than the presidency and they know they will be living with the fallout from this campaign long after the results of this election are known on the night of Nov. 8.”

This dynamic has accelerated the timetable for the blame game that usually happens in the wake of an election.

-- There were several noteworthy shows of solidarity with the nominee last night:

On Saturday, Mike Pence issued a statement saying he was “offended” by his running mate’s words and “cannot defend them.” But whatever private reservations he may still harbor, he publicly fell in line last night – posting this after the debate:

(#MAGA stands for Make America Great Again.)

Appearing on CNN this morning, the Indiana governor added: "It's absolutely false to suggest at any point and time we considered dropping off this ticket. It's the greatest honor of my life.”

RNC chairman Reince Priebus also showed public support by flying to the debate on Trump’s jet:

NBC, citing “a source within the RNC,” said Priebus has told staffers to do "what's best" for them as aides at every level fear working on the Trump campaign's behalf could damage their reputation. But the RNC’s chief spokesman pushed back on the report:

And Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway lashed out at the Republican lawmakers who are jumping ship by saying that “some of them” sexually harass women in the Capitol. She did not name names but told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews last night that some of the members are known for “rubbing up against girls” and “sticking their tongues down women’s throats uninvited.”

-- Conservative Washington Examiner columnist Byron York argues that “Trump's performance will shut down Republican defections from his struggling campaign, at least for now”: “Say you were a Republican lawmaker contemplating breaking with Trump. You didn't do it Saturday, when several GOP officials jumped, because you wanted to see how Trump would do in the debate Sunday night. Now you've seen it — a more aggressive, hard-hitting, and focused effort than Trump's losing performance in Debate One — and you're probably not going to abandon Trump now.”

Weekly Standard Executive Editor Bill Kristol concurs but describes this as a fatal mistake: “Here's the problem: Some Republican leaders could well make the mistake of thinking that because Trump wasn't destroyed at the debate, there isn't now a dire need to act. They could decide that because Trump didn't dissolve into a puddle in the center of the town hall, the situation has stabilized, and the status quo is sustainable. That would be a fatal mistake. The Declaration of Independence identified the problem: ‘All experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.’ Republicans may be disposed to suffer, rather than take bold action, contrary to the forms to which they are accustomed, to shove Trump aside. Republican leaders may think, or hope, that Trump is a sufferable evil. They will be cruelly disappointed in that judgment.”

The Washington bureau chief of National Review also sees this as a paradox:

As does the conservative on the New York Times opinion page:

A BuzzFeed writer who wrote a book on the GOP field says everyone he talked with thinks Trump will lose, BUT...

-- A chorus of Republican strategists with experience at the highest levels of presidential campaigns, meanwhile, described the debate as an unmitigated disaster for Trump:

The head of Jeb Bush’s super PAC:

Mitt Romney's chief pollster in 2012:

Romney’s chief strategist:

John Kasich’s chief strategist:

-- The result of all this is that the GOP is in a state of total paralysis: “One member of the House Republican leadership, conceding its majority was now in jeopardy, compared the situation to the 2006 scandal involving a Florida congressman’s inappropriate conduct with congressional pages. If that scandal was a house fire, this lawmaker said, Mr. Trump had brought on the political equivalent of a nuclear attack,” Alex Burns, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman report in the New York Times. As Steven Law, a longtime confidant of Mitch McConnell who runs the main GOP super PAC focused on saving the Senate, put it: “The Republican Party is caught in a theater fire; people are just running to different exits as fast as they can."

-- Last night was proof point number 4,358: Trump cannot change. Even if he tried. Even if he wanted to. And he does not want to…

-- Wavering party leaders said they needed to see Trump show real contrition for the crude and predatory comments he made about women in 2005. Trump showed none. Instead, he went on the attack. “I’m very embarrassed by it,” Trump said in a classic non-apology (being embarrassed something appeared in the newspaper is different than being embarrassed about the substance of what was said.) “I hate it. But it’s locker-room talk. It’s one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse. Mine were words and his was action. What he did to women, there’s never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation who’s been so abusive to women. . . . Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously.”

Trump tells Clinton that, if he was president, "you'd be in jail."

-- His scorched-earth tactics were the worst-case scenario that many GOP leaders had feared. Most chillingly, he promised he would try to send Clinton to jail if elected by appointing a special prosecutor to go after her. He called his opponent “the Devil.” And, as she spoke, he got in her personal space and lurked around the stage – making Rick Lazio look polite. He also repeatedly clashed with the moderators, insisting that he was not getting as much time as her (even though, by the final tally, he got more.)

Desperate, he threw the kitchen sink. He falsely accused HRC of “laughing” at a 12-year-old rape victim. He blamed her for her husband’s infidelity. “Trump even seemed to blame Clinton for the death of Capt. Humayun Khan — a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq in 2004 whose parents spoke at the Democratic convention — because as a senator she voted in favor of the Iraq War, which he himself also once supported,” Jenna Johnson notes. “He repeatedly accused Clinton of lying, being an ‘ineffective’ senator and making money off her political position. He said she had hate in her heart and didn’t care about those living in inner-city poverty.”

-- Another important takeaway: Breitbart is now fully in control of Trump’s campaign. An hour before the debate, Trump invited a small group of reporters to observe what was billed as his final debate preparations. When they arrived in Trump’s sixth-floor conference room at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis, they found the candidate in a highly unusual scene — glowering as he sat alongside four women who claimed they had been mistreated by the Clintons. “The quartet included Paula Jones, who accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment in the early 1990s, and Juanita Broaddrick, who accused him of raping her in 1978,” Bob Costa reports. “Watching as the news conference unfolded was one of the men who orchestrated it, Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s campaign chief executive and the political provocateur who has long targeted the Clintons as well as the Republican establishment through his conservative website, Breitbart.”

Trump was then going to seat the four women in his family’s box, but Frank J. Fahrenkopf, the debate commission’s co-chairman and a former Republican National Committee chairman, caught wind of the plot and immediately moved to put an end to it. “Fahrenkopf tartly warned a Trump staffer that if the campaign tried to put the four women in the family box, security personnel would remove them,” Bob Costa, Dan Balz and Phil Rucker scoop. “The campaign’s plan, which was closely held and unknown to several of Trump’s top aides, was thwarted just minutes before it could be executedThe gambit to give Bill Clinton’s accusers prime seats was devised by Trump campaign chief executive Stephen K. Bannon and Jared Kushner, the candidate’s son-in-law, and approved personally by Trump. The four women — three of whom have alleged Bill Clinton sexually assaulted or harassed them years ago — were to walk in the debate hall at the same time as the 42nd president and confront him in front of a national television audience.”

The line between a supposed “news” site and the campaign is porous, to say the least:

From a top GOP elections lawyer:

-- The stunt was all about shoring up Trump’s base, not expanding it. “In an alternate universe, Republicans would have been thrilled at the spectacle,” David Weigel writes. “In addition to Benghazi, Trump hammered Clinton on Syria, Obamacare, her handling of classified material — so many of the attack lines that the GOP has long dreamed of throwing in her face. Yet, for all of Trump’s ability to go aggressively after Clinton, even saying she should be in jail, Sunday night’s debate was likely all the more frustrating for many Republicans who see their nominee as too damaged at this stage to effectively block her from the White House.”

New York Magazine Ed Kilgore says going full Breitbart “will remind panicky Republicans who are thinking about disassociating themselves from him (and perhaps fantasizing about dumping him) that they are courting a bloody intraparty civil war for years if they go too far”: “Yes, congressional Republicans may soon change their campaign messages to emphasize their determination to ‘rein in Hillary Clinton,’ which will encourage ticket-splitting and hurt Trump. But as the initial panic subsides, the stampede to reject or defenestrate him as the nominee will subside as well.”

University of Virginia political handicapper Larry Sabato suspects that the base loved Trump’s performance, and that it will further drive a long-term wedge between party leaders and the voters.

-- There are parallels to 1964. For the next half century, Republicans will judge other Republicans by where they stood on Trump in October 2016. In contrast to Barry Goldwater, it seems quite unlikely that history will be kind to those who stood by the GOP nominee through his final hours.

Politicians, always fixated on the next election, tend not to think about legacy until late in their careers, when they’ve obtained the power that they covet. But the smart ones are thinking about legacy after last night’s debate. The ones who have a sense of the sweep of history know that where they stood on Trump at this moment could very well wind up in their obituaries...

-- Trump is also doing more to help Clinton get millennials on board than anything she possibly could. The risk is that a class of young people who would become Republicans identify as independents or even Democrats because of his outlandishness. The College Republicans at Washington University, which hosted the debate, declined to endorse Trump earlier this year. Rubin Schuckit, the president of the group, said the members did not want to back him “mainly because of his temperament.” "Typically I’m prone to say people overreact to things, but I think people’s reactions to Donald Trump’s tape are measured and it vindicates our decision not to endorse him,” he told our Kayla Epstein. Lilly Wurm, a Wash U freshman and member of the College Republicans, added: "Like everyone else, Trump scares us too. He doesn’t align with who we are as a club. And we hope that we can just look forward to 2020."

Donald Trump walks in the rain with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi as they arrive at a rally in Tampa in August. (Loren Elliott/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

-- Trump’s collapse has already ruined many political careers, and it will probably ruin more… The ambitious Republicans who submitted and capitulated to Trump after he personally insulted them and their families continue to be personally humiliated. Philip Rucker looks at some of the Republican leaders who stood by him and excused his behavior after attacks against women, the disabled, Latino immigrants, Muslim Americans, Syrian refugees, prisoners of war, Gold Star parents and others. Two examples from Rucker’s story:

  • “In Florida, Attorney General Pam Bondi, who also has ambitions for higher office, stepped forward during the primaries as one of Trump’s most loyal spokeswomen. But she got caught up in a Trump scandal over her political group’s acceptance of an undisclosed and unlawful $25,000 contribution from the Trump Foundation and her office’s subsequent decision not to investigate alleged fraud at Trump University.”
  • “In Virginia, Corey Stewart, a county-level official with eyes on the governorship, appointed himself Trump’s ‘mini-me.’ He gave fiery introductions at rallies across the commonwealth, and on Friday, he defended Trump’s bragging about groping women and aggressively pursuing sex with one who was married. ‘He acted like a frat boy, as a lot of guys do,’ Stewart said.”

“Everything Trump touches dies,” said Republican consultant Rick Wilson, who is advising independent candidate Evan McMullin. “This is going to last forever,” he told Phil. For years now, Democrats will be able to roll out TV ads and say, ‘When John Smith says today he’s for a brighter future, remember who he stood by: Donald Trump. He stood by Donald Trump’s misogyny, racism, sexism and stupidity.’”

“The Republican Party will look like Berlin circa 1945,” added GOP operative Steve Schmidt. “The wreckage will take a substantial amount of time to pick up. There will be a restoration, but it is going to require a monumental feat of leadership by someone who has not yet revealed themselves to the American people.”

-- Those who did not capitulate have been completely vindicated by the past 48 hours. Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse and Kasich all resisted pressure from Priebus and will benefit politically…

The junior senator from Nebraska took a victory lap of sorts last night:

-- Schmidt, one of John McCain’s top advisers in 2008, said this weekend’s donnybrook “has exposed the intellectual rot in the Republican Party.” “This candidacy – the magnitude of its disgrace to the country is almost impossible to articulate,” he said during an appearance on “Meet the Press” Sunday. “It has exposed, at a massive level, the hypocrisy, the modern-day money changers in the temple like Jerry Falwell Jr. … What we have seen – and the danger for all of the candidates – is that over the course of the last year these candidates have repeatedly put their party ahead of their country.”

-- The son of former President Ronald Reagan had gotten behind Trump but withdrew his endorsement last week after the GOP nominee claimed with no evidence that Hillary had been unfaithful to Bill.

-- This is why Chris Cillizza put Pence on his debate losers list: “Look, it's been hard enough sharing the ticket with Trump over the past week. But, the Indiana governor had to grimace when Trump said that A) they hadn't spoken about Syria and that B) Pence's position was wrong. Rumors that Pence is going to leave the ticket — over this or anything else — seem overblown to me. He knew what he was getting into when he said he would run as Trump's V.P. But still, the public rebuke with tens of millions of people watching couldn't have been pleasant for Pence.”

FACT CHECK:

-- Trump lied with impunity throughout much of the debate. Our Fact Checkers flag 25 dubious statements from both candidates.  Six highlights from Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee:

  • “Clinton did not laugh at a rape victim.”
  • “There’s no evidence Clinton deleted the emails in anticipation of the subpoena, and FBI director James Comey has said his agency’s investigation found no evidence any work-related emails were ‘intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them.’”
  • “To support the debunked notion that Clinton’s campaign originated ‘birther’ rumors during the 2008 presidential campaign, Trump once again referenced longtime Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal and Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle. But he’s grasping at straws — and once again refused to apologize for his own role in promoting the birther fable.”
  • “Trump is simply wrong when he says the United States is the highest taxed nation in the world.”
  • “Trump made a ludicrous claim that U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens made 600 requests for help before he perished in the attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi.”
  • “Premiums (under Obamacare) are expected to increase overall in 2017, but Trump is cherry-picking from the highest proposed increases in the insurance marketplace.”

There were several additional falsehoods they did not have time to cover.

If you missed it, our video team summarized the debate into three minutes:

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.
Sign up to receive the newsletter.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Two instant polls show Clinton won the debate:

  • CNN/ORC: 57 percent said Clinton won to 34 percent for Trump. But 63 percent thought Trump outperformed expectations.
  • YouGov: 47 percent thought Clinton won, while 42 percent said Trump did.

-- An NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll that was in the field after Friday’s revelations finds that 63 percent of likely voters do NOT think Trump respects women. That’s an 8 point jump from four days before the emergence of the tape.

  • 69 percent of women now say that Trump does not respect women, up 5 points from the last survey. And the number of men who said the same jumped 10 points (55 percent).
  • 12 percent of likely Republican voters said Trump should drop out of the race because of his 2005 comments.
  • Clinton now leads Trump in a four way matchup, 46 to his 41 percent (with Johnson at 8 and Stein at 3 percent.) And half of likely voters—50 percent—said they have heard or have been following coverage of the 2005 tape of Trump making inappropriate comments about women "a lot." An additional 30 percent of voters said they've heard or have been following "some" coverage.
Armed Houthi supporters in Sana'a, Yemen, last week. (EPA)

-- Iranian-backed Houthi rebels fired two missiles at a U.S. Navy destroyer operating off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea, the Pentagon confirmed. From Fox News: Though neither missile hit the ship, U.S. defense officials said the ship was “definitely targeted.” The move comes as a dramatic escalation just one week after the U.S. Navy sent warships to an area when a UAE flagged auxiliary ship was destroyed off the coast of Yemen by the Houthis.

-- Harvard Professor Oliver Hart and MIT Professor Bengt Holström won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Economics for their research on contract theory.

Flooded cars were stranded yesterday on Monticello Avenue in Norfolk, Virginia. (Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. At least 20 Americans have died because of Hurricane Matthew, and another five are missing. More than two million people across five states have lost power. Significant flooding also continues to plague parts of South and North Carolina, where 20 inches of rain have been recorded. (Kirk Ross, Arelis Hernández and Renae Merle)
  2. NBC indefinitely suspended Billy Bush from the “Today” show, taking the longtime television personality off the air for his crude banter with Trump about women. “There is simply no excuse for Billy’s language and behavior in that tape,” the network said. (Fox News)
  3. A New York commuter train sideswiped a work train that was performing maintenance this weekend, injuring 33 people and leaving another four very seriously hurt. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said initial reviews indicate the maintenance train somehow entered clearance space for the eastbound Long Island train, causing it to derail. (AP)
  4. The gunman accused of fatally shooting two Palm Springs police officers, and injuring a third, opened fire after the cops responded to a “simple family disturbance.” If found guilty, 26-year-old John Felix, would be eligible for the death penalty. (Amy B Wang)
  5. Samsung Electronics is temporarily halting production of its Galaxy Note 7 phone, delivering yet another blow to the tech company as it seeks to recover some 2 million faulty devices that have been overheating and risk catching fire. (Wall Street Journal)
  6. More than 95 percent of national health and medical groups -- including the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association -- are sponsored by Coca-Cola or Pepsi, according to a new study. Researchers increasingly question whether taking cash from “big soda” represents a conflict of interest akin to accepting dirty tobacco money. (Kerry Lauerman)
  7. The Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency following seven days of anti-government protests. (AP)
  8. A Palestinian gunman opened fire near Israeli police headquarters, killing two before he was fatally shot by police. It's the latest in a string of violent attacks by Palestinians against Israelis in Israel and the West Bank. Since last year, such attacks have killed 38 Israelis, two U.S. citizens, an Eritrean and 230 Palestinians – the majority of whom were reportedly attackers. (Ruth Eglash)
  9. A Virginia Beach teacher is facing criminal charges after he wrote “focus” on the forehead of a misbehaving eighth-grader and banned him from removing it until an assignment was finished. The teacher was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery. (Kristine Guerra)
  10. A Sikh man in California was brutally attacked in his vehicle by a group of men who removed his turban and cut off his hair. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime. (Kristine Guerra)

THE DAILY HILLARY:

-- Al Gore will appear alongside Clinton in Miami tomorrow, seeking to appeal to young voters who prioritize global warming but have yet to throw their weight behind the Democratic nominee. “Gore’s pitch: People concerned about climate change, especially young voters, should ignore the siren song of third-party candidates and opt for Clinton,” Juliet Eilperin writes. The former vice president will emphasize the many times that Trump has questioned the link between human activity and climate change.

-- The Columbus Dispatch became the latest conservative newspaper to throw its support behind Clinton, praising the Democratic nominee as “well-equipped for the job.” “The Dispatch traditionally has endorsed Republican presidential candidates, but Trump does not espouse or support traditional Republican values, such as fiscal prudence, limited government and free trade, not to mention civility and decency,” the editorial board wrote Sunday. “We are disappointed that so many Republican leaders have accommodated a narcissistic, morally bankrupt candidate who is so clearly out of step with those values."

-- Foreign Policy Magazine also just endorsed Clinton, coming out in favor of a political candidate for the first time in the publication’s half-century history. “Our readers depend on FP for insight and analysis into issues of national security and foreign policy,” the editors write. “We feel that our obligation to our readers thus extends now to making clear the great magnitude of the threat that a Trump presidency would pose to the United States. The dangers Trump presents as president stretch beyond the United States to the international economy, to global security, to America’s allies, as well as to countless innocents everywhere who would be the victims of his inexperience, his perverse policy views, and the profound unsuitability of his temperament for the office he seeks.” (Read more.)

-- Miami-Dade’s Republican Mayor Carlos Gimenez has joined the chorus calling on Trump to step down as the Republican nominee and said he will cast his vote for Clinton: “I’m not going to endorse anybody,” Gimenez said during a mayoral debate. “But between Trump and Clinton, I’m not voting for Trump. Obviously, I must be voting for Clinton.”

THE DAILY DONALD:

-- Clinton ally David Brock volunteered to pay the legal fees of any “Apprentice” producer or staff member who obtains damaging footage of Trump from his time on the show. His offer comes after Mark Burnett, the producer and reported friend of Trump, warned staffers he would “not hesitate to sue” them if they leaked unaired video. (Politico)

-- Mike Pence will not appear at a scheduled New Jersey fundraiser today. (NJ.com)

-- “Why Pence Is No Savior, by Indianapolis Monthly’s Adam Wren (for Politico Magazine): “Since his Hoosier state rose to unexpected prominence with its decisive May primary, Pence has shown an ability to thread a needle better than Betsy Ross and walk a political tightrope better than Philippe Petit. Now, he is being asked to walk the highest and most dangerous high wire of his career. … Though it’s highly unlikely at this point, should Pence ever replace Trump as the party’s standard-bearer, his record as governor and a congressman would receive a new level of scrutiny it has thus far largely escaped. [And] when and if his congressional record comes into sharper focus, Pence could face struggle with women … and independent voters turned off by his dogmatic conservatism.” He once called the Disney film “Mulan” liberal propaganda, saying “women in military, bad idea.’” “He has rigid and deeply held assumptions about our economic and political future in the U.S.” former colleague Scott Pelath said. “The moment they're punctured, he struggles to defend himself.”

-- New Yorker profile, Kellyanne Conway’s Political Machinations, by Ryan Lizza: “In a sense, Conway’s life prepared her for a boss like Trump. Born Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, she grew up in Atco, New Jersey … with her grandmother and two unmarried aunts. ‘These four Italian women raised me,’ she said. ‘It’s like South Jersey’s version of ‘The Golden Girls.’ When Kellyanne was a teen-ager, her mother worked at the Claridge Hotel and Casino, in Atlantic City, as a shift supervisor in the main cage, where players cash their chips. [Later], Conway worked for Newt Gingrich in the nineties, when he was rising in the House of Representatives, and in 2012, when he ran for President. Gingrich … told me that he had recently observed Conway and Trump on Trump’s plane. ‘They have very good chemistry,’ he said, adding that previous advisers had made the mistake of trying ‘to reshape him.’ Gingrich said, ‘That’s not going to happen, because he’s a seventy-year-old adult billionaire who has been on a top-rated TV show, had the No. 1 book in the country … he actually thinks he knows something.’ Gingrich went on, ‘Her view is that she needs to intuit what he’s good at and what he’s bad at, and how to deal with them.’”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Let's begin with this tweet summing up the whole evening:

Clinton adviser Ann O'Leary sent the kids to bed before the debate:

Trump at several points loomed behind Clinton:

Count on images like this one becoming memes:

Maria Shriver said it "creeped" her out:

This tweet from author and professor Bayoumi Moustafa became the most retweeted post under the hashtag #debate:

Here's reaction from journalists and cable commentators to Trump's stunt before the debate:

Social media might have been most worked up about Trump saying he would sic a special prosecutor on Clinton if elected:

Watch the video of the moment:

Threatening to put your political opponents in jail is inarguably un-American, and there was consensus among serious people across the ideological spectrum that Trump really crossed a line by talking about locking up his opponent:

The New York Post leads with it:

As Don Graham, the former owner of The Post, put it on Facebook: “Well, after 228 years--the bitterest differences imaginable, the Civil War, the Depression, Vietnam, many more--a Presidential candidate has threatened to throw his opponent in jail if elected. Dictators do this. American Presidents--including some who hated their opponents--have never dreamed of doing such a thing.”

The former chief speechwriter to President Obama:

The former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library:

This was not some random aside -- the Trump campaign is pushing the idea on Facebook after the debate:

Republican focus group organizer Frank Luntz thinks Trump actually won last night -- and thinks promising to prosecute Clinton was a big reason...

Clinton foreign policy spokesman Jesse Lehrich ended up apologizing for this tweet (warning: profanity):

Check out this search trend online -- not encouraging for the situation in Syria:

Several celebrities were tuned in. Trump falsely denied pointing his Twitter followers to an alleged 'sex tape' of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. He then bragged that his tweeting is “very effective.” “I’m not unproud of it,” he said. This is how Julia-Louis Dreyfus replied:

 

Comedian Patton Oswalt:

Singer-songwriter Eli Lieb:

Katy Perry:

Mark Cuban:

And Jessica Chastain:

Ivanka Trump posted to Instagram for the first time since the news of the 2005 tape broke on Friday:

A few more moments that took off online, starting with this undecided voter's expression as Trump spoke:

Another standout moment -- this undecided voter's face when Trump called Clinton the devil (click to watch):

Clinton took a good look at the camera in this moment (click to watch):

Coming to a meme near you -- Clinton and Trump singing together:

Washington University students were eager to get some airtime on CNN:

The Onion poked fun at Paul Ryan:

This is the old self discipline quote Trump was asked about during the debate:

Richard Trumka spotted a spelling error on his spin room sign:

Melania Trump wore this blouse:

This image of a bald eagle caught in the grill of a car is circulating as a metaphor for the election:

Finally, this tweet from Laura Ingraham tweet is being called anti-Semitic:

Trump claimed Clinton friend Sidney Blumenthal first started the birther allegations against President Obama:

A closing thought from Jeffrey Goldberg:

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

-- “Seth Meyers needed to find his place in late night. Then Donald Trump ran for president,” by Emily Yahr: “After earning fame in the ‘Update’ chair and writing some famous sketches … [Seth] Meyers inherited ‘Late Night’ from Jimmy Fallon in early 2014. Like the versions before it, Meyers’s show had a mix of comedy bits and celebrity interviews — but at first, it didn’t quite know what it wanted to be. Then, in August 2015, Meyers did something groundbreaking: He sat down. It was a small change … [but one that made] a difference. Immediately, Meyers looked at home, just like on ‘Weekend Update,’ as he joked about the news of the day. Meyers said. Then the show started to get more overtly political … As Jon Stewart discovered during ‘Indecision 2000,’ late-night television can be a powerful tool when the political world threatens to cave in on itself. Just as the ‘Daily Show’s’ coverage of the chaotic Florida recount cemented Stewart’s reputation … the surreal 2016 presidential election might just be Seth Meyers’s moment.”

-- “In the wake of Matthew, Haitian towns struggle with cholera,” by Joshua Partlow: “Cholera cases were breaking out by the dozens across a hurricane-devastated swath of coastal Haiti on Sunday, forcing families in isolated villages to carry their ailing relatives out on grueling backcountry hikes to reach understaffed hospitals, where patients were swooning on the floor. In some of those villages, and especially in the more remote and inaccessible mountain towns above them, flooding and contaminated water have ignited an outbreak of cholera that is spreading rapidly, according to hospital staff." Cholera was introduced to Haiti in 2010 by Nepalese peacekeepers, stationed at a U.N. base, whose latrine drained into one of Haiti’s major rivers.  ... The overall death toll in Haiti from Hurricane Matthew is still unclear. In Grand-Anse Department, north of Port-a-Piment, officials said 522 were confirmed dead, the Associated Press reported. [Another] nationwide tally put the figure at more than 900.

HOT ON THE LEFT:

"A professor is under fire after saying Black Lives Matter is as racist as the KKK,” by Kristine Guerra: “A college professor found himself in hot water after likening the Black Lives Matter movement to the racism of the Klu Klux Klan. Douglas Muir, an adjunct professor for the University of Virginia, wrote in a Facebook comment that Black Lives Matter is the ‘biggest’ racist organization since the KKK. The comment was written last week in response to a Facebook post about a Black Lives Matter event in Charlottesville. University officials later issued statements denouncing the comments and …. the professor has since taken leave, according to the university. Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy also took to social media to criticize Muir for his comments … ‘The notion that #BlackLivesMatter can be comparable to the Klu Klux Klan is not only incredibly misguided, but goes to show the lack of cultural awareness that still plagues many professors at our Universities across the country,’” Bellamy said.

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“‘Bacon grease’ bullets: Police chief criticized for perceived anti-Muslim Facebook posts,” from Amy B Wang: “An Islamic American civil rights group is calling for an Alabama police chief to be investigated after he posted alleged ‘anti-Muslim bigotry’ on his Facebook page. On Sept. 23, Gurley Police Chief Barry Pendergraft shared a picture of a box of ammunition on his personal Facebook account with the caption: ‘100 more bacon grease covered bullets in the box! This relaxes me so!!’ Four days later, Pendergraft posted a short video of ammunition being picked up with a similar caption: “Happiness is a couple thousand rounds in the ammo box! Bacon grease dipped of course!!’ According to [the Islamic-American Relations council], the idea of bullets covered in bacon grease refers to ‘a theme often used by anti-Muslim bigots because they falsely believe Muslims cannot enter heaven if they are shot by such ammunition.’”

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: Trump campaigns in Ambridge and Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Pence is in Charlotte and Fletcher, N.C. Clinton campaigns in Miami with Al Gore.

At the White House: Obama rallies Clinton supporters in Greensboro, N.C.

On Capitol Hill: The House and Senate are out.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“I felt like I was watching the political Titanic hit the iceberg, back up, and hit it again. Just for fun.” -- National Review writer David French (who mulled an independent bid for president earlier this year) reacts to Trump’s debate performance

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

-- It’s officially fall – and today is the day you can shamelessly start sporting the boots and layers. Today’s Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “We awaken to our chilliest morning since May – with most spots in the 40s. Despite considerable sunshine, highs have a hard time getting much above 60 degrees today.”

-- The Nationals beat the Dodgers 5-2 to win Game 2 of the division series, so they’re tied 1-1 as they play Game 3 in L.A. this afternoon.

-- The Redskins beat the Ravens 16-10.

-- At least one person was killed last night after the remnants of Hurricane Matthew barreled onto the Virginia coastline, bringing winds, flooding, and power outages to the Hampton Roads region. Officials say they do not know how many people have suffered from storm-related injuries. (Faiz Siddiqui and Paul Duggan)

-- Maryland police are investigating an alleged kidnapping after a woman said she was held hostage in the trunk of a car for several days. They said the woman was able to flee her captor on foot and was found at a Cracker Barrel store in the Bel Air area. (Martin Weil)

-- “NFL’s John Urschel has a brain made for math. And he’s willing to risk it on the field,” by Michael S. Rosenwald: “On the football field, lining up John Urschel across from Tanguy Ringoir would be unfair and possibly lethal. Urschel, a [Ravens] offensive lineman, is 6-foot-3 and weighs more than 300 pounds. Ringoir, a grandmaster chess player known as the ‘Belgian Butcher,’ is a flight risk in a sharp wind. Across the chess board, they are better-matched opponents. Urschel is pursuing a PhD in math at MIT … [and] Ringoir is studying economics at the [University of Maryland] and captains its powerhouse chess team. … The noncontact world of chess is where he exercises his brain, and his vicious competitiveness, when he’s not blocking blitzes or solving problems in applied mathematics. That difference — taking on beasts, not pawns — worries his family, math mentors and chess buddies as the reported number ex-NFL players suffering from brain damage increases. And though Ivy Leaguers and gifted minds are found throughout professional sports, there are few professional athletes like him in history — with the gravitas and pure genius that go beyond the extraordinary.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Alec Baldwin was back as Trump during this weekend's SNL cold-open:

Tina Fey took a veiled shot at Jimmy Fallon for his easygoing Trump interview in this segment:

Hamilton fans, rejoice: guest host Lin-Manuel Miranda spoofed "My Shot" for his opening monologue:

Fallon impersonated Trump -- with Tyler Perry as Madea -- in this sketch on his show:

Funny or Die continues to unpack stereotypes facing female leaders:

In a post-debate interview, Rudy Giuliani talked about Monica Lewinsky's blue dress (click to watch):

Another Trump surrogate in the spin room, Niall Farrage, compared Trump to "a silverback gorilla" because "he dominated her."

Scandal's Tony Goldwyn blasted Trump in this video (click to watch):

Very awkward moment between Trump and daughter Tiffany (click to watch):

Words matter...

Scott Baio defended Trump's 2005 comments, saying critics should "grow up":

Diplomats walked out of the UN Security Council during a speech from an Assad surrogate (click to watch):