THE BIG IDEA: The biggest news out of last night’s debate is that Donald Trump will not commit to respect the outcome of the election on Nov. 8. “I will keep you in suspense,” he said, gleefully offending elite sensibilities and disregarding our country’s democratic tradition.
But the more damaging impression that average voters will be left with from Las Vegas is Trump’s total lack of self-discipline.
Most Americans want a president who can control his (or her) impulses. They may not volunteer “self-restraint” as a hallmark of good leadership, but people do not want someone with an irrepressible temper and unhealthy ego in control of our nuclear arsenal. Trump once again failed that test at the University of Nevada, squandering his last big chance to change the trajectory of a race that has moved away from him.
-- For the third debate in a row, the Republican nominee was calm, cool and collected – for the first 15 minutes. Then he let Hillary Clinton get under his skin.
The pivot point came during a conversation about immigration. Noting his trip to Mexico, the former secretary of state said Trump “choked” by failing to even raise the issue of who would pay for his border wall. Trump, who before that moment seemed like he had taken a tranquilizer, snapped to. In the 75 minutes that followed, he repeatedly took her bait, looking petty, small and un-presidential along the way.
Trump uttered the word “WRONG” at least six times, according to the transcript. Other times he inaudibly mouthed it under his breath.
He said three times that Clinton was “wrong” as she rightly noted that he supported the invasion of Iraq. “I just want everybody to go Google it,” she replied. “Google ‘Donald Trump Iraq.’ And you will see the dozens of sources which verify that he was for the invasion of Iraq.”
“The final debate once again demonstrated Trump’s thin grasp of the facts and his willingness to make poorly sourced or inaccurate claims,” our in-house Fact Checkers Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee report. “Clinton, for the most part, was more factually accurate.” (Here’s a round-up of 24 of the more notable claims.)
Trump became more agitated as the night dragged on. The split screen was not his friend. You could see him grimacing, rolling his eyes and shaking his head as she talked.
The culmination of all this came in the final moments when Clinton, talking about Social Security, took a dig at Trump for not paying federal income taxes. “Such a nasty woman,” he blurted out.
Clinton got under his skin again when she turned a question about her private, paid speeches to banks into an attack on Trump as a “puppet” of Vladimir Putin. “No puppet! No puppet! You’re the puppet,” he shot back. Then he questioned the judgment of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia is behind the recent hacks aimed at meddling in our election.
Again and again, he could not help himself. Polls show the economy is Trump’s best issue, but given the chance to expound on it, he decided he had to go back to a quip she had made about nuclear weapons earlier.
Asked why so many women would come forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct if there was nothing to it, Trump blamed Clinton. The accusations were “probably started by her and her sleazy campaign,” he said, claiming falsely that the accusations have been “debunked” and that he did not even know some of the women.
The audience literally laughed out loud when Trump declared, “Nobody has more respect for women than me.” Moderator Chris Wallace had to quiet the crowd. “Please, everybody,” he said.
During the foreign policy round, Trump claimed that the Iraqi military’s operation to retake Mosul from ISIS (which the U.S. is supporting but not leading) was timed to help Clinton. This is on its face preposterous, and Clinton pounced.
“That’s how Donald thinks,” Clinton shot back. “He has all these conspiracies.”
She pointed out that he always wants to blame others for his own problems, noting that he once even said the Emmys were rigged because he did not win.
“Should have gotten it,” Trump exclaimed, validating her line of attack. (In case you were wondering, “The Apprentice” lost out to “The Amazing Race.”)
It was an unforced error, just like in the first debate when he said not paying taxes “makes me smart” without thinking.
Declaring that he might not accept the results of the election was merely a continuation of this pattern – taken to a new extreme.
-- Part of Trump’s problem coming into the debates was that his arrogance led him to consistently underestimate his need for preparation. He really believed he could wing it, and no one could convince him otherwise. In one of the more unintentionally telling moments of the debate, he noted off-handedly that he had been watching television in his hotel room during the day and saw tons of attack ads being run against him. So instead of preparing for an event that tens of millions of voters would watch, he was watching cable talking heads chatter about him. He even skipped his scheduled walk-through of the debate hall yesterday morning!
-- Trump’s self-absorption also haunted him during the debates. Clinton has spent the past few months trying to frame the election as a referendum on him. She’s succeeded, in part, because Trump’s favorite thing to talk about is, well, Trump.
And he takes everything personally. Trump started his answer on the Supreme Court vacancy, for example, by noting that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said nasty things about him and claiming that she was “forced to apologize.”
As New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd puts it, “In Trump’s warped fun-house mirror of a psyche, every rejection is a small death. That is why he harps on humiliation, that America is being humiliated on the world stage … He gets so easily distracted by belittling statements … that he could not focus to make points in areas where Hillary is vulnerable. In order to stop losing, he would have to stop losing it.”
-- To be fair, Trump didn’t just lose last night. Clinton won. Her decision to include psychologists in debate prep was one of the savviest moves of the whole campaign. These professionals helped her formulate some of the best traps that Trump walked into. Recall the first debate, when Clinton mentioned his attacks on Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe, as “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.”
“Clinton’s successful execution of this strategy has been, fittingly, the product of traits that she’s often criticized for: her caution, her overpreparation, her blandness,” Vox’s Ezra Klein writes. “The result has been a political achievement of awesome dimensions, but one that Clinton gets scarce credit for because it looks like something Trump is doing, rather than something she is doing — which is, of course, the point.”
Clinton also effectively threw rhetorical life vests to disaffected Republicans. She name dropped Ronald Reagan early and often. At one point, she noted that Trump spent six figures on newspaper ads attacking Reagan’s foreign policy. Rather than let it fly, Trump responded by reiterating his three-decade-old criticism of Reagan, specifically faulting him for supporting free trade. That will definitely up his numbers with recalcitrant Republicans….
-- Trump is more isolated than ever this morning. Every GOP candidate in the country will be asked today whether they will respect the election results as legitimate. Almost all of them will answer yes.
Post columnist Charles Krauthammer described it as “political suicide”: “His task was to stop the slide… to make him less toxic and acceptable as president, and less radical,” the conservative commentator said on Fox News. The American people want change, he said, “but they don’t want a radical that will challenge the foundations of the Republic. Yes, you criticize conditions– you’re going to change Washington, etc. But you don’t challenge the legitimacy of an election and hold up the prospect of actual non-acceptance. And when he did that, I think it was a terrible mistake.”
“There will be a temptation among Republicans to try to downplay this moment with a tu quoque defense, reminding people that Democrats have been questioning the legitimacy of presidential elections since the hanging chad,” The Weekly Standard’s Jonathan V. Last writes. “But this is a false equivalency. While Democratic (and Republican) functionaries and low-level officeholders have dabbled in electoral illegitimacy in the past, no presidential candidate has raised the possibility himself. And context matters: Trump is questioning the election results a month before the vote and doing so while losing by a large margin. This is a big deal. And to make it even bigger, Trump didn't just question the legitimacy of the outcome but also the peaceful transition of power, which he specifically refused to endorse. "I'll keep you in suspense" about whether or not Trump will accede to the peaceful transfer of power in the case of defeat? This is not business as usual. It is a difference of kind, not degree.”
“It’s over for Trump,” adds the Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein: “People often don't like to proclaim events over until they officially are. And it's true that the race isn't technically over, in the same way that a football game isn't technically over until the clock runs out, even if the losing team is down two touchdowns with no timeouts, with 1 minute left, and the leading team is in possession of the ball with a first down, and the quarterback is taking the knee. But everybody knows which way that game is going to turn out. The same is true here. Trump's act, which worked on a Republican electorate in a crowded field of candidates, failed miserably among a broader electorate. He's lost — and the fat lady has already started singing.”
“Trump craps out,” GOP operative Reed Galen declares on Medium: “By refusing to accept the outcome of a free and fair election — and that’s what this will be, Trump once again undermines perhaps the most important underpinning of a republic: The faith its people has in their country’s rule of law and that their vote will be counted. The Donald cannot believe he’s losing, because in his mind he doesn’t lose ergo, if he loses, it must be someone else’s fault.”
“If he loses it will not be because the system is ‘rigged’ but because he failed as a candidate,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement.
A CNN/ORC instant poll finds that voters thought Clinton prevailed by a 13-point margin, 52 percent to 39 percent.
A CBS Battleground Tracker poll found Clinton winning by a 10 point margin, 49 percent to 39 percent. Another 12 percent called it a tie.
An Ohio focus group of 32 undecided voters found Clinton with a slight advantage over Trump: 11 said she won the debate, 10 said the same of Trump, and the remaining 16 remained undecided. Of the 16 remaining undecided, Democratic operative Chris Kofinis relays that 11 voters said they moved towards Clinton while just 5 said they moved towards Trump. When asked who was more negative, 21 voters said Trump. One said Clinton.
Our chief correspondent Dan Balz: “Trump needed to do more than make those in his coalition who most dislike Clinton cheer his attacks. But as he has repeatedly in the campaign, Trump managed to undermine his best moments with his worst, likely leaving him short of his goal — if it was his goal — to bring new voters to his side. In that sense, this final debate was what everyone expected, a repetition of what has come before. The likelihood is that it will do little to alter the trajectory of the campaign and that leaves Trump in a perilous position.”
Trump beat reporter Sean Sullivan: “Ted Cruz was right. Trump was no match for Clinton at the debates.”
The Fix’s Chris Cillizza: “This was the Democratic nominee’s best debate performance. She finally figured out the right calibration of ignoring and engaging Trump. … Her performance wasn't perfect; she struggled to defend the Clinton Foundation, for example, but Trump managed to throw her an opening to talk about his own foundation's issues. All in all, Clinton won — a clean sweep of the three debates.”
Associated Press: “Trump needed a game changer. Instead, he landed a jaw dropper.”
Los Angeles Times: “We scored the third presidential debate. Hillary Clinton won, and it wasn't even close.”
Boston Globe’s Matt Viser and Annie Linskey: “The debate put on full display the utter disdain the candidates had for one another. They didn’t shake hands before or after the debate, refusing to engage in a customary tradition honored in nearly every competition from Little League to the Super Bowl.”
Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman: “In a bitter, joyless 90-minute debate, Trump and Clinton went at each other with a ‘Game of Thrones’ level of viciousness that could only have been fun to watch in the Kremlin. It was as though, knowing that he could not win the presidency, Trump was determined to make the job not worth having.”
New Yorker’s John Cassidy: “The real message of Trump’s election comments: I’m going to lose.”
Orlando Sentinel’s Steven Lemongello: “Each candidate talked in near-apocalyptic terms about the possibility of the other becoming president. … Clinton called Trump’s campaign ‘dark and dangerous’ while Trump claimed Clinton ‘should not have been allowed to run for president’ at all.”
Roll Call’s Walter Shapiro: “Trump rediscovered his authoritarian side by dramatically announcing that his Democratic opponent ‘shouldn’t be allowed to run. It’s crooked.’ That’s right — because of charges about her homebrew email server that the FBI director said did not warrant prosecution — Trump would have banned Clinton from the ballot. It is worth recalling that in 1920, Eugene Debs, as the Socialist candidate for president, received nearly 1 million votes while serving as Prisoner 9653 in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. Debs’ conviction for opposing American entry into World War I was unjust. But back in 1920, no one suggested that he should be banned from the ballot in a democracy.”
Wall Street Journal’s Reid J. Epstein: “No matter what else was said during this debate, expect the takeaway from the media – and also pushed by Mrs. Clinton’s campaign – to be Mr. Trump’s foray into discrediting the entire American political system,”
New York Times’s Patrick Healy and Jonathan Martin: “Mr. Trump, under enormous pressure to halt Mrs. Clinton’s steady rise in opinion polls, came across as repeatedly frustrated as he tried to rally conservative voters with hard-line stands on illegal immigration and abortion rights. But he kept finding himself drawn onto perilous political territory.”
-- There is near consensus that Chris Wallace was the best of the five general election debate moderators. And he put Matt Lauer to shame. “He was forceful in pinning down the candidates without unduly interfering,” Post blogger Jennifer Rubin argues. “His performance should be studied by future moderators. Actually, the debate commission might consider giving him all the debates to moderate.”
-- Hillary gaggled with reporters on her flight back to New York after the debate. “I am feeling both relieved and very grateful,” she said at the start of a four-minute availability. Asked about Trump’s comments on accepting the election results, she said: “It was horrifying what he said on the debate stage tonight. Our country has been around for 240 years and we are a country based on laws and we’ve had not contested elections going back to the very beginning. But one of our hallmarks has always been we accept the outcome of our elections. … As I said, when he is losing he blames the system whatever the system, whether it is being in court over Trump University or losing the Iowa caucus and Wisconsin primary and losing Emmys, for goodness sake, he says it is rigged against him.”
-- Donald Trump Jr. said becoming president would be “a step down” for his father. “He’s learning as he goes, because he’s a real American,” Don Jr. said on Fox.
-- Trump and Roger Ailes are no longer on speaking terms, according to New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman and Vanity Fair’s Sarah Ellison. But the reason for the fallout depends on who you ask: “Ailes’s camp said Ailes learned that Trump couldn’t focus—surprise, surprise—and that advising him was a waste of time,” Sherman said at a Vanity Fair summit, adding that the debate prep sessions “weren’t going anywhere.” Ellison, meanwhile, told a different story: “Even for the second debate, Ailes kept going off on tangents and talking about his war stories while he was supposed to be prepping Trump.”
-- The Trump effect: A new survey finds that white evangelicals have become far more accepting of politicians’ personal indiscretions. From Sarah Pulliam Bailey: “In just five years, white evangelicals have become much more likely to say a person who commits an “immoral” act can behave ethically in a public role. In 2011, just 30 percent of these evangelicals said this, but that number has more than doubled to 72 percent." The survey comes as the majority of white evangelicals are expected to favor Trump, a thrice-married business executive who has repeatedly bragged about adultery and propositioning married women.
-- HOW DOES THIS END? The final debate marked the beginning of the end of a presidential race that most Republican leaders cannot wait to forget, Robert Costa writes. “But the party’s [Trump]-driven divisions will not cease on election night. The axis of furious conservative activists and hard-right media that spawned Trump’s nationalist and conspiratorial campaign is determined to complete its hostile takeover of the GOP, win or lose.”
The first post-election target for the grievance movement is likely to be Paul Ryan, who has drawn Trump’s ire for not supporting him more fully. Trump surrogates are already talking about a takedown, with Fox News’ Sean Hannity calling Ryan a “saboteur” who “needed to be called out and replaced” after Wednesday’s debate. “The revolt that has been going on in the Republican Party, that brought Trump to where he is, is not going away. If anything, it’s going to intensify,” said veteran Democratic strategist and Breitbart poll adviser Patrick Caddell.
At the fore of this conglomeration is Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon, the former Breitbart head who has become Trump’s most influential confidant: “Bannon has been a prominent backer of political assaults against Ryan and other Republican leaders over the past decade from the party’s fringes — boosting primary challengers and warning against compromise … [And now,] with the fringes of the GOP managing the Republican nominee, a retreat is far from likely.”
Trump and Bannon have spoken increasingly about Trump being the American incarnation of Brexit: “That makes Trump less a candidate along the usual right-left spectrum and more of an outlier who whips up outrage over globalization,” Costa adds. “Within Trump’s inner circle, the view of the nominee and his place in political history is far different and could have sweeping consequences for Republicans … Trump is described by his close advisers as a figure whose power comes from beyond the party and whose politics may not need one.”
-- A fresh Bloomberg Politics poll finds just 24 percent of Republicans think Trump should be the face of the party nationally if Clinton wins in November -- with Mike Pence emerging as the top choice to lead the Republican Party instead. From Sahil Kapur: “The poll’s findings showed the extent to which Trump, with his hardline positions on immigration and trade, has triumphed among the party’s supporters over Ryan, with his vision of a pluralist conservative party that focuses on cutting taxes and spending.” Also on the list were Cruz with 19 percent, Ryan with 15 percent, and Kasich with 10 percent.
But, but, but: If Trump loses in November, 38 percent of his supporters say they’ll “stay loyal to and follow him.” 33 percent said they would follow him “for a bit but probably lose interest,” while 24 percent say he’d fall off their radar.
-- New York Times, “Anti-Semitic Posts, Many From Trump Supporters, Surge on Twitter,” by Jonathan Mahler: “Anti-Semitism has been resurgent in Europe for years. But it has taken on a new dimension in the United States with the emergence of the Trump campaign, whose battle against political correctness has provided a kind of on-ramp for bigotry to enter the political mainstream.” An investigation found that 2.6 million anti-Semitic messages were posted on Twitter from August 2015 to July 2016. Of those, 19,253 were directed at journalists. “There was a significant uptick starting early this year, when the presidential campaign began to intensify … The report was careful not to suggest that the Trump campaign 'supported or endorsed' the anti-Semitic attacks, but noted that many had been sent by his supporters. But some of the targets said that by evoking hostility toward minorities, Mr. Trump’s campaign had inspired and emboldened white nationalists and others to engage in acts of digital aggression toward 'others' — including Jews — and toward Jewish journalists in particular."
-- A Trump fact checker recounts the disarming experience of facing a candidate who cares little about telling the truth. “What we’re experiencing from Trump is a daily avalanche of wrongness,” Daniel Dale writes in Politico Magazine. “But it also seems clear that there’s a devoted reluctance, among a substantial number of Trump supporters, to believe that their man is anything but the straightest of shooters. They’ve accused me of being controlled by the CIA. They’ve accused me of having a sexual attraction to Clinton’s ‘colostomy bag.’ I’ve been told to ‘get a life’ and, more confusingly, to ‘get a job.’ And, at times, I’ve gained some more insight into the mind of Trump’s unshakable loyalists. To some extent, I know I’m fact-checking to the converted. I think the lists are popular with anti-Trump readers partly for their cathartic value—because they tell powerless bystanders that the perpetrator of this heist isn’t just being allowed to waltz out of the bank. Maybe the man is still going to get away with it, but at least somebody is waving their arms and shouting, ‘Hey, wait!’ The man himself, of course, almost never appears to care.”
-- Quinnipiac University’s new national poll finds Clinton up 7 points (47-40), up from 5 points last week. Trump’s lead has diminished among white males. But Trump may be changing the conversation in other ways: 55 percent now believe the media is bias against the GOP nominee. Among Republican voters, the number surged to nearly 90 percent. (3 in 4 Democrats said they disagree.)
-- Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe asked a federal judge to extend the state’s voter registration deadline, following a computer crash that prevented would-be voters from signing on the final registration day. A hearing on the matter is expected this afternoon. (Laura Vozzella)
-- “House GOP leaders warn: Fundraising gap with Democrats could lead to ‘substantial losses,’” by Ed O’Keefe: “Top Republicans still believe they can retain control of the House of Representatives next year, but admit that Trump's campaign is ‘adding a layer of uncertainty’ in the closing weeks of the election season. A memo sent Wednesday … from the House GOP campaign arm also warns that a growing fundraising gap with House Democrats ‘is unsustainable’ and could lead to ‘substantial losses.’ Ostensibly designed to brief lawmakers on the closing weeks of the campaign, the memo -- written by Rob Simms, executive director of the [NRCC] -- is also clearly designed to catch the attention of top Republican donors, who may be more focused on helping preserve control of the U.S. Senate or sitting on money out of opposition to Trump's presidential campaign. The memo never mentions Trump, but Simms writes that GOP lawmakers have ‘largely insulated themselves from the negative effects of the national environment’ by focusing on official constituent concerns and aggressive fundraising.”
-- The Miami Herald’s editorial board endorsed Patrick Murphy, walking back its years of support for Marco Rubio and calling the Florida senator a “disappointment.” “Mr. Trump’s candidacy is a test of character, and Sen. Rubio is failing that test," the board wrote. "How can voters believe he’s sincere when he says he does not share Mr. Trump’s awful views on Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims, women, etc., yet — at the same time — stands by his endorsement of the New York billionaire? His act is unconvincing. It reeks of political convenience rather than political conviction.”
-- Obama taped radio interviews yesterday with three local stations in North Carolina and Florida.
-- “What does an adviser do? Mosul operation highlights elasticity of military support operations,” by Missy Ryan: “As the operation to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul gets underway, American troops are poised to expand their hands-on support to local forces battling the Islamic State. In a sign of the importance of the long-awaited offensive, military leaders are authorized to place U.S. forces advisers with Iraqi army battalions for the first time as they push toward militant lines, exposing U.S. forces to greater risks. Military officials say the troops will remain back from the thick of combat … [and] will not, they insist, look like the years following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when U.S. troops who operated nominally in support of local forces often did the bulk of the fighting themselves. But questions about the extent of U.S. activities in the unfolding ground operation also serve to highlight the elasticity of the American advisory role, which has been employed in a host of counterterrorism conflicts since 2001 …”
-- “Julian Assange was Ecuador’s guest of honor. Until he wore out his welcome,” by Nick Miroff: “Ecuador treated Julian Assange like a trophy in 2012 when it opened the doors of its London embassy to the WikiLeaks founder, sheltering him from extradition to Sweden over rape allegations and, possibly, to the United States. Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s leftist president, seemed to bask in Assange’s bad-boy glow, which gave the small South American nation a big role in a global drama. Correa embraced Assange’s mother at the presidential palace in Quito, Ecuador's capital, and championed the Australian ’hacktivist’ as an anti-imperialist comrade-in-arms. Now he's treating Assange like a bad tenant who won’t leave. … The decision looks like the latest sign that Assange has worn out his welcome with his Ecuadoran hosts. And it comes at a time when a broader political realignment in South America has significantly reduced the advantages of having a human hot potato like Assange jolting the U.S. presidential election from the embassy’s Web server.”
-- The New Yorker, “Ana Navarro’s one-woman revolt against Donald Trump,” by Jonathan Blitzer: “[Republican strategist Ana Navarro] has been fighting the G.O.P.’s rightward drift for the past three election cycles. In this year’s primaries, she likened the race between [Cruz] and [Trump] to a ‘choice between strep throat and leukemia.’ ‘I’m unplugged, unchained, unmuzzled,’ she said. Now, if only until November 8th, she has become the pundit of the moment, appealing to both forlorn conservatives and liberals starved for sanity in the prime-time slot. She is a firebrand of the middle at a moment when the center can barely seem to hold. She makes her living coining tag lines, but [now] she has cemented her reputation by quoting the man she reviles verbatim. ‘I was a Republican before [Trump] was a Republican,’” she said on the Daily Show. ‘I was a Republican when Trump was a Democrat. I was a Republican when Trump was an independent. And I’m going to be a Republican when Trump gets tired of being a Republican.’” Trevor Noah laughed, but Navarro wasn’t joking.
On the campaign trail: Trump campaigns in Delaware, Ohio; Pence stops in Reno, Nev. and Albuquerque, N.M. Kaine speaks in Charlotte and Durham, N.C.; Michelle Obama is in Phoenix; Biden is in Nashua, N.H.
At the White House: Obama speaks about the Affordable Care Act, rallies supporters at a Clinton campaign event and participates in a DGA roundtable in Miami.
-- Today is our FINAL day of summery warmth before the weather starts turning colder – so enjoy it while you can! The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Early-morning risers could see a shower, while others see areas of fog. Most of the fog and clouds should burn off by late morning. As the day warms, clouds pop up anew in the afternoon. Temperatures are on a slower climb, but highs are likely to top out in the upper 70s to near 80 — still about 15 degrees above normal.”
-- Metro Police are being criticized for using excessive force after video footage showed officers pushing and tripping a high school student who refused to throw away a bag of potato chips and a lollipop. (Martine Powers)
-- An anonymous donor gifted $20 million to Georgetown Preparatory School this week, the largest single donation in the school’s 227-year history. (Joe Heim)
-- In Northern Virginia, Rep. Barbara Comstock and LuAnn Bennett faced off for their final debate. From Jenna Portnoy: “Democratic challenger LuAnn Bennett departed from her practice of tying Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock to Trump. Instead, she worked to paint the incumbent as an extreme partisan in a do-little Congress and mentioned the Republican presidential nominee just once. ... Comstock touted her local connections and said she has been an ally to congressional Democrats representing the region in the GOP-controlled House while calling Bennett out of touch with the district’s priorities. [She also] steered clear of Trump: ‘I’ve made my statement known and my views,’ she told reporters.” Questions at the debate focused predominantly on transportation, which both candidates agreed is a barrier to economic development in the congested region.