Final Trump-Clinton debate in 140 characters (and more)

Story highlights

  • Commentators share their thoughts on the final presidential debate in real time.

(CNN)CNN Opinion is curating tweets and posting comments from our contributors on the final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Tim Naftali: Foreign affairs stumped Trump

    Donald Trump lost this debate by refusing to show any wisdom about foreign affairs or to acknowledge anything good about America in the Reagan-Obama years. And Donald Trump lost America by treating the forthcoming transition of power as a tease for his next season. This was ugly and his behavior, dangerous.
    Tim Naftali is a CNN presidential historian and also teaches history and public service at New York University.

    Tim Naftali: Trump doesn't understand foreign policy

    Donald Trump seems to understand less about foreign policy now than when he started running. As clear from his comments on Syria and on the assault on Mosul, he has learned nothing. He doesn't even seem to understand which side Russia is actually on. No foreign policy expert could support him in good conscience.
    Tim Naftali is a CNN presidential historian and also teaches history and public service at New York University.

    Nayyera Haq: This debate seems almost normal

    I'm hardly the only one who dreaded this debate and was hoping it would simply disappear. It was hard to imagine sitting through another 90 min of Trump pontificating and Hillary keeping her emotions in check. What a relief instead to find a substantive, conventional debate in which two candidates traded opinions on policy. Moderator Chris Wallace deserves credit for keeping things on track, but Trump clearly showed up committed to discussing details. This should not be considered an accomplishment; until this election season, decorum was the norm. But it sure was a relief - for down ballot Republicans needing the top of the ticket to articulate conservative policies, but even more so for an American public needing a break from the vitriol.
    Nayyera Haq is a former White House Senior Director and State Department spokesperson in the Obama administration.

    Ruth Ben-Ghiat: Trump's authoritarian dream

    Trump's fantasy: a one-man election, in the authoritarian manner. He now says that the whole election is invalid, since Clinton should never have been allowed to run, and on that basis refuses to commit to accepting the election. Also authoritarian: saying that your own side's violence is planted by the other side. And denying that your own violent actions ever happened.
    Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University.

    Ruth Ben-Ghait: Trump goes low

    Trump's strategies are transparent by now: insult Clinton's plans, and Obama's policies, to avoid giving specifics about your own. Other than to say you'll make a great deal. Go low and make the debate about character and judgment. Mutual overtalk rises when things take this turn.
    Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University.

    Tim Stanley: Clinton and Trump are both avoiding the question

    Hillary Clinton is playing the neocon in this debate, attacking Putin and Trump's supposed links to the Russian leader. This is somewhat strategic -- Mrs Clinton doesn't want to discuss the substance of the WikiLeaks emails and would rather talk about how they got into the public sphere. But it leaves us in an odd situation. First, it's a switch for the Democrats. Four years ago, Obama joked in a debate with Romney that calling the Russians a strategic threat was Cold War politics. Putin's involvement in Ukraine since then suggests Obama was wrong. Second, it's a switch for the Republicans too -- for they now are the party arguing for negotiation with the Kremlin. Romney must be watching this with his head in his hands.
    Timothy Stanley, a conservative, is a historian and columnist for Britain's Daily Telegraph.

    Ruth Ben-Ghiat: So far, it's been refreshing

    Two refreshing things so far about this debate: It's all about policy, and Chris Wallace is not allowing Trump to interrupt. Trump has started sniffing as he gets energized, talking about "bad hombres" we need to eject from our country and Clinton being okay with allowing babies to be "ripped from the womb." Clinton more forthright, calling Trump out on his scare tactic rhetoric.
    Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University.

    Julian Zelizer: Trump on SCOTUS

    Being firm on conservative Supreme Court justices is crucial for Trump at this point, simply to retain the support of religious conservatives, many of whom are wavering in their support of him.
    Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and a New America fellow.

    Frida Ghitis: Watch how Trump handles it

    A key question tonight is whether Trump has given up on winning this election. If he unleashes a new stream of outrages, we will know he is only trying to stoke his existing supporters. That will mean he is already working on his post-election plans; perhaps a Trump TV network or some other idea. If he exercises restraint, trying to persuade Hillary supporters and undecided voters that he is capable of discipline and thoughtfulness, then we will know he still thinks he can win.
    Frida Ghitis is a world affairs columnist for The Miami Herald and World Politics Review, and a former CNN producer and correspondent.

    Julian Zelizer: How ugly will it get?

    This feels less a presidential debate that an episode of Big Brother or some other reality show. Americans are tuning in tonight to see just how ugly the fight will become.
    Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and a New America fellow.