A Cuban sandwich for Trump

Hillary Clinton bragged Thursday that she bested Donald Trump in the head games surrounding Monday’s debate by inviting billionaire Trump tormentor Mark Cuban to sit in the front row. “He really, I think, unsettled my opponent,” she said.

Meanwhile, a Trump supporter, Sen. Marco Rubio, was unsettled by a Newsweek report alleging that a Trump-owned company flouted the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba in the late 1990s with a trip to explore potential ventures there.

“This is something they’re going to have to give a response to. I mean, it was a violation of American law, if that’s how it happened,” said Rubio, who like many Cuban-Americans in swing-state Florida, is a foe of the Communist regime.

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said during an interview on ABC’s “The View” that Trump “decided not to invest there,” but she didn’t deny the reported trip expense.

A Clinton campaign statement said: “It would have been against the law to spend any money on the island at all.”

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Trump takes beauty-queen bait, again

Conway was pressed on “The View” by co-host Joy Behar on whether she had “reprimanded” Trump for using such words as “fat pigs” to describe women in the past.

“Yes,” Conway said, adding that it’s “beside the point.” She pivoted to defending her boss’ attacks on one accuser, former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, adding that the 1996 pageant winner “obviously has a troubled past that I won’t get into.”

But early Friday, Trump was trying to "get into" it. He took to Twitter and displayed a fixation on this over-blown issue -- which Clintonistas might take as a sign that they'd successfully baited him into more petulant, evidence-free name-calling.

"Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?" came his third tweet on the topic in just an hour, logged at 5:30 a.m.

Pending historical research, it may be the first time a presidential candidate has urged his public to "check out" a sex tape.

The take-away: Cyberthreats

A discussion about cybersecurity in Monday’s debate got steered into a narrow political context — the purported Russian role in high-profile hacking, seen as an effort to meddle in the U.S. presidential campaign.

But the wider issue — with implications for national security, civil liberties and counterterrorism — remains to be grappled with in more detail, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

Polls suggest a bit of a Clinton bump

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After their first debate, Clinton has achieved a sparse front-runner status again when several surveys are considered, according to The Hill which says:

"Pollsters caution that it’s still too early to draw definitive conclusions about the long-term impact of the debate, and note the movement in Clinton’s direction has been modest.

"But data experts say the Democratic contender has at the very least reestablished herself as the front-runner after the race had tightened almost to the point of a toss-up."

All those Clinton scandals

Trump, speaking to New Hampshire supporters, said “the Clintons are the sordid past,” while “we will be the very bright and clean future,” reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.

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Trump attacked the immunity granted to a handful of people in the FBI probe of her use of a private email server as secretary of state and reminded his audience of Bill Clinton’s impeachment, which arose from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

CNN said a leaked memo showed Trump surrogates have been instructed to talk about Bill Clinton’s affairs.

Hillary Clinton, asked by a reporter Thursday if it was her responsibility to “speak out on a spouse’s indiscretions or past,” replied: “No.”

Prepping for Round 2

In Iowa, where Trump has been leading, Clinton told supporters at an outdoor rally that she would address economic concerns with policies to boost jobs and wages, and improve workforce education, Newsday’s Laura Figueroa reports.

Clinton said she was eager to take on Trump in the upcoming second presidential debate on Oct. 9 and got in a dig over reports of Trump’s shaky preparation for their first match. “I have no idea what he’ll say the next time, but you know I will spend some time preparing for it,” she said.

Et tu, Howard?

Speaking for the first time about a 2002 interview on his radio show with Trump, Howard Stern said yes, Trump “was kind of for the Iraq War, us going into Iraq.”

Trump continues to insist, without evidence, that he opposed the war before it began. BuzzFeed has a clip from Stern’s show Thursday.

‘I’m having a brain freeze’

So said Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson on MSNBC while struggling to come up with the name of a foreign leader he respects. (Video here.)

He eventually came up with “the former president of Mexico” but couldn’t say which one until running mate William Weld prompted him: Vicente Fox.

Trump and Clinton got the same question Thursday, and both named Germany’s Angela Merkel. But Trump added he was “very disappointed” with how she has handled the refugee crisis. Clinton praised her for that.

What else is happening

  • Former employees of a Trump golf club in California say he wanted to fire women he didn’t consider attractive, the Los Angeles Times reports. To protect them, managers adjusted schedules so only the better-looking women were working when Trump visited.
  • Trump accused Google of “suppressing” negative information about Clinton. The unsubstantiated charge was published Sept. 12 by the Kremlin-backed Sputnik News agency and picked up the next day by pro-Trump Breitbart News, Politico reports.
  • The National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid long known for its comically bizarre fabrications, seems to be Trump's go-to paper of record with the help of Dick Morris, a one-time Bill Clinton strategist turned antagonist.
  • For nine months, it was Clinton, not Trump, who avoided news conferences. Now it’s the reverse, notes The Washington Post. Trump hasn’t had one since July 27.
  • Trump’s transition team in Washington is about five times the size of Clinton’s, with its nearly 100 members tasked to fill in the blanks on his policy agendas, Politico reports.
  • Tim Kaine is getting off the campaign trail to spend several days preparing for next Tuesday’s vice presidential debate.