RUMBLINGS FROM THE SECOND DEBATE — TRUMP’S COMMENTS ON SYRIA, RUSSIA AND IRAN IRK GOP ESTABLISHMENT: Our colleague Michael Crowley writes that Donald Trump’s praise in Sunday’s debate left a sour taste among GOP defense hawks: “Almost any list of America’s top foreign rivals would include Iran, Russia and the government of Syria. Sunday night, Donald Trump spoke approvingly of all three. Trump infuriated Republican insiders — and contradicted one of his own senior foreign policy advisers — when he suggested that those three governments are playing a positive role in Syria’s civil war.
PENCE ON SYRIA — THERE’S NO GAP WITH TRUMP: Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, said Monday there's no divide atop the Republican ticket when it comes to Syria, despite Trump’s blunt comments that he disagreed with what Pence had said about being prepared to use military force in Syria. "He and I haven't spoken and I disagree," Trump said at Sunday night's debate in St. Louis. But Pence argued debate moderator Martha Raddatz had mischaracterized his comments, although she had set up her question to Trump on what to do in Syria and Aleppo by reading Pence’s own words.
“Donald trump’s position, our position has been that we need to establish safe zones. And you need to be willing to use resources — and including military power — to secure those safe zones to allow those people including 100,000 children, to be able to evacuate,” Pence said on CNN. “Donald Trump has made it clear, our policy is safe zones for people suffering in Syria. But also his focus is on destroying ISIS in Syria, and not regime change. And I think the way she framed that was to suggest that I had implied we ought to use military power to achieve regime change. I simply had never said that.”
— MEANWHILE, THINGS ARE STILL CHAOTIC ON THE GROUND IN SYRIA, and neither presidential candidate has done much to explain how to deal with the snarled mess from the Oval Office, notes The Associated Press’ Matthew Lee: “With Syrian President Bashar Assad and his allies Russia and Iran dug in and no sign the fighting is nearing an end, the new U.S. president will confront a problem for which there is no clean or clear solution.
“Trump has said the only American interest in Syria is defeating the Islamic State group and has suggested he might leave Syria's fate to Russia and Iran. … Clinton pointed out that she, as chief diplomat, had pushed for a more robust response in Syria. … The problem with no-fly and safe zones is that they need to be enforced, an issue that vexed the Pentagon when first proposed four years ago because of the resources required. Since Clinton became a candidate, Russia's military intervention has only exacerbated that problem.”
AND ADD ANOTHER LAYER TO THE SYRIAN ONION — PUTIN AND ERDOGAN MEET AND BOOST TRADE TIES, via The Wall Street Journal: “The Turkish and Russian leaders strengthened their rapprochement on Monday by emphasizing new trade deals that boost their ailing economies while minimizing their deep tensions on security matters. On the sidelines of a global energy summit in Istanbul, Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin signed a deal for the long-delayed TurkStream natural gas project that would allow Russia a new pipeline to reach European markets during a time when Moscow is struggling with sanctions against parts of its economy following its incursion into Ukraine.”
— TURKEY INVITES RUSSIA TO BID FOR MISSILE DEFENSE CONTRACT, via Defense News: “Three years after disqualifying a Russian bidder for being too expensive, Turkey invited the same contender into the same contract for the acquisition of the country’s first long-range air and anti-missile defense system. Turkish diplomatic and procurement sources said that the Russian contender was ‘invited’ to make a bid again after Turkish and Russian presidents, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin met in Istanbul Oct. 10 on the sidelines of a global energy conference.”