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It’s Tuesday, the traditional day for elections and for our pause-and-consider newsletter on politics and policy. We think of it as a mini-magazine in your Inbox.

By Lisa Desjardins, correspondent

Much has been made of facts this election, when to check them and how politicians and the media use (or abuse) them. But consider adding another measure of substance to your debate analysis: the exact words Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump used last night. The transcript provides some interesting insights.

“Tax” came up as often as “jobs” — 49 times each. On the other end, “Syria” and “climate” each were mentioned only once. Both times by Clinton.

The candidates both used a long-standing passive aggressive Washington technique of addressing each other using specific terms. Clinton called Trump “Donald” 49 times, while Trump referred to her throughout as “secretary” more than 20 times.

Money mattered. Dollar figures entered the conversation 30 times with the word “money” itself making 20 appearances.

And one thing mattered most, judging by the candidates' battle to wrack up their counts of the word “America.” Clinton and Trump used the word in the debate some 54 times.

By Daniel Bush, digital politics editor

Hillary Clinton won the first debate. She had a good night. Donald Trump? Not so much. Clinton was uneven early on, when Trump was at his strongest. But about 15 minutes in, Clinton took over and kept Trump on the defensive for the rest of the night. He came across as erratic, angry, flustered and unprepared for the biggest political stage of the election. Clinton, in contrast, appeared poised and knowledgeable on domestic and foreign policy. Here are a few more second-day takeaways:

  • Trump was rattled. Trump seemed rattled for most of the debate, and it showed. He gave rambling, incoherent responses to questions about his tax returns, the birth controversy, and his past statements on women, among other topics.

  • Clinton was her wonky self, for better or worse. On stage last night Clinton defended her decision to prepare for the debate, and for the presidency. “That’s a good thing,” she said. Yet she faced criticism after the debate for coming off as too wonky. Whether it’s fair or not, it’s a criticism Clinton can’t shake. On Election Day, voters will decide whether they want a president who cares about policy details, or someone who doesn’t.

  • Some actual substance. If you take a step back from the blow-by-blow, there were a few moments of important substance in the first debate, especially on class, race and policing. Clinton called for gun control and more trust between communities and police. Trump, on the other hand, stressed his call for “law and order.”

  • Round 2: Trump needs a game-changer. Trump needed to do one thing at the debate on Monday: convince skeptical voters outside of his base that he would be a competent, serious-minded president, with a basic grasp of policy. He failed. Trump will get a second chance at the next debate, but now the pressure is even higher.

By Quinn Bowman, Capitol Hill producer

The Senate blocked a bill on Tuesday that would fund much of the federal government past this Saturday, leaving Congressional leaders without a deal to prevent a partial government shutdown this weekend.
Congressional leaders agreed to extend current funding levels until December 9th of this year, in addition to $1.1 billion in money to fight the Zika virus. But Democrats also want the bill to include money to assist people affected by lead-tainted water in Flint, Michigan.
Congress has found itself in this scenario over and over again since Republicans took control of the House in 2011 and battled with President Obama and House and Senate Democrats over how much money the government spends. The government shut down for several days in 2013.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. demanded action on the Flint water crisis. “Would it be asking too much for the Speaker of the House, the Republican leader of the Senate, to stand and say, we're going to get that thing done?” Reid said on the Senate floor, adding, “they ignore the people of Flint.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. accused Democrats of politicizing the spending fight. “It’s almost as if a few Democratic leaders decided long ago that bringing our country to the brink would make for good election-year politics, and then they've just made up the rationale as they go,” McConnell said before the vote.
The impasse forces Republican leaders to come up with a new compromise that can get 60 votes in the Senate and possibly pass the House later in the week. The Zika/federal spending bill will likely be the final piece of legislation passed before Election Day on Nov. 8.
By Bob Kovach

On September 27th in a previous year, a U.S. president created a new cabinet-level agency: the Department of Education. Who was that president?

Send us your answers. Email us at NewsHourPolitics@newshour.org or tweet your guesses using #PoliticsTrivia. The first correct answers will earn a bully for you! Shout out to our tens of thousands of readers next week.

Last week we asked: which president was inaugurated in September 1881 and where was he born?

The answer is Chester A. Arthur who Lisa persuasively argues is the most under-recognized president in U.S. history. (See below.) Arthur was born in Fairfield, Vermont, a significant fact as some at the time insisted he was actually born in Canada and not qualified to be president.  


This week we offer a bonus section, coming out of last week’s bonus question which asked for any of President Arthur’s accomplishments. Here is a (very) brief list.
  • Only the foundation of good government. Arthur signed the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, which is a cornerstone of our meritocracy. It decreed that those who work for the government should be hired on merit, not on political connections. It sounds basic now, but it was not in 1883 when political bosses made government hires and corruption was part of the federal DNA. This was a dramatic, pivotal act for Arthur, who broke with the political machine that put him in office in signing the law and moving the U.S. away from corruption.

  • The steel Navy. Arthur is known as the “father of the steel Navy” for pushing the U.S. to move past a wooden fleet and into steel.

  • What would have been the nation’s first civil rights law. Arthur backed the Civil Rights Act of 1875, mandating equal treatment for all races in public places and on public transportation. The Supreme Court struck it down however, and Arthur was not able to push through a replacement version.

  • He defended the original Rosa Parks. As a young lawyer in 1855, Arthur defended an African-American woman named Elizabeth Jennings who had been forced off a streetcar in New York City for refusing to sit in the section reserved for blacks. The case forced desegregation of transportation throughout the city.

  • The first major renovation of the White House. Arthur, known for his fashion taste, hired Louis Comfort Tiffany, of Tiffany’s, to redecorate the building, which had fallen into disrepair.

  • A prominent journalist at the time wrote, “No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted as Chester Alan Arthur, and no one ever retired … more generally respected, alike by political friend and foe.”

  • Mark Twain concluded that “it would be hard indeed … to better” Arthur’s administration.
Thank you for reading and watching. We’ll drop into your Inbox next week.