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March 18, 2014
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As Russia claims Crimea for its own, it's no surprise that members of the Republican Party are piling on President Obama for "losing" Crimea in a Cold War-esque face-off with Vladimir Putin. The most prominent attack this week came from Mitt Romney in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, which one would assume would borrow from Romney's 2012 campaign in claiming that Obama's wimpy apologizing for America had allowed the thuggish likes of Putin to play Nelson to Obama's Milhouse.

But Romney tries a far more modest tack instead, blaming Obama for failing to act at the "propitious point" that would have magically paved the way for American triumphs in a series of foreign policy events ranging from the protests in Tahrir Square to the protests in Kiev's Maidan. Obama has too often been caught in an "analysis paralysis," Romney suggests, while Romney's ideal president — himself perhaps? — would have been able to "anticipate events, prepare for them, and act in time to shape them."

This is, of course, a hindsight-is-20/20 argument of the highest order, and virtually useless in prescribing a better foreign policy other than blandly requiring that America's leaders be decisive. However, it is a useful insight into a GOP that is struggling to find a unified message on foreign policy. Romney has clearly adopted a less belligerent line than, say, John McCain, a recognition that voters have no interest in an interventionist foreign policy of the Bush variety. Meanwhile, Romney's argument is to the right of Rand Paul, who has come to represent the budding isolationist wing of the party and is struggling mightily to remain relevant (and coherent) amid the drama in Ukraine.

But in seeking middle ground, Romney ends up in a weird no man's land in which he fails to offer any real alternative to Obama's policies. "Timing is of the essence," Romney concludes — which doesn't have quite the stentorian ring of "peace through strength." Ryu Spaeth

11:30 a.m. ET
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Donald Trump apparently upset his fans on the alt-right message board 4chan during the first presidential debate Monday night, when he characterized the perpetrator of the hack on the Democratic National Committee as probably "someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds." One anonymous user posted an image titled "fat-computer-guy.gif," alongside the comment, "[Your face when] Trump calls you out for being a 400-pound hacker." Another asked, "Which one of you 400lb a** holes hacked the DNC."

4chan users have previously supplied Trump's campaign with some of its favorite controversial memes, but it's safe to say their comments Monday certainly won't be retweeted by any Trump surrogates. As The Daily Beast reported, Trump's remark blaming the DNC breach on a 400-pound hacker rather than on Russia — which U.S. officials have suggested is the real culprit — was just the one of the issues 4chan users had with their preferred candidate's performance. "I watched it with family mixed Democrat/Republican," wrote one user. "Every single person on both sides thought Trump looked horrible." Another flat-out wrote: "Trump actually sucked tonight."

You can read the rest of 4chan users' takes on Trump's debate performance over at The Daily Beast. Becca Stanek

11:24 a.m. ET

Archaeologists have uncovered a forgotten 200-year-old pub beneath the city of Manchester, England. And the best part? It still has full, untouched bottles of brandy inside, The Independent reports.

Archaeologists discovered the underground pub — once known as the Astley Arms — when they were brought in to inspect the site of a future skyscraper. During the excavation, they found pottery belonging to Thomas Evans, who was the landlord of Astley Arms in 1821. "It's brilliant because you can suddenly connect it to the local people in the area. We looked online about [Evans'] family history and one of his descendants now lives in Texas," said the site's archeological supervisor, Aidan Turner.

As many as 20 bottles have also been found in the former pub, Manchester Evening News reports. "We opened the cork on a few and you can still smell it," said James Alderson, the site's developer. "It's amazing knowing there's so much history at this site and it's really exciting." Jeva Lange

11:05 a.m. ET
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During one of the most memorable moments of Monday night's first presidential debate, moderator Lester Holt gave Donald Trump the opportunity to apologize for perpetuating the conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Trump — never one for apologies — sidestepped by claiming he managed to get President Obama to publish his birth certificate. When pressed by Holt further, Trump finally said he had "nothing" to say to Americans of color who might be offended by his promotion of birtherism.

Trump apparently wasn't backing down on one of his other favorite conspiracies, either. Having repeatedly suggested his Republican primary opponent Ted Cruz's father played a part in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Trump's campaign after the debate refused to clarify the matter to The Weekly Standard. "A lot of things have been said out on the campaign trail. Mr. Trump hasn't been shy that he's a very strong competitor out on the campaign trail," Trump's senior communications adviser Jason Miller said. "The fact that Sen. Cruz came out and endorsed Mr. Trump I think really says a lot. I think it talks about how the party's coming together, how it's united."

Okay. Next? "I don't remember," senior Trump adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. "You should ask him."

New York Rep. Peter King (R) tried to lay the whole thing to rest. "That wasn't even up tonight," he said. "That's between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Obviously, if it's good enough for Ted Cruz, it's good enough for me." Jeva Lange

10:37 a.m. ET
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Almost every time Donald Trump's chances at winning the presidency have dropped this election season, the Mexican peso's value has risen. And on Tuesday morning, after the first presidential debate Monday night, the peso's value increased by more than 2 percent.

That surge, Reuters reported, is a sign the markets seem to have agreed that Hillary Clinton won round one. "Markets started to call the debate for Hillary within the first 15 minutes or so, with the Mexican peso surging in what is probably its busiest Asian session in years," Sean Callow, a Westpac senior currency analyst in Sydney, told Reuters. If Trump were to win the presidency, Mexico's economy, which relies heavily on exports to the United States, could suffer greatly were he to follow through on enacting his proposed trade policies and building his much-touted border wall.

Prior to the debate, as Trump climbed in the polls, the peso had hit an "all-time low," Reuters reported. Becca Stanek

10:30 a.m. ET
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Immediately after Monday night's debate, Donald Trump praised moderator Lester Holt's performance. "I thought Lester did a great job," he told CNN's Dylan Byers in the spin room. "Honestly, I thought he did a great job. I thought [the questions] were fair."

But, 12 hours later, Trump is singing a different tune. "I'd give him a C, C-plus," Trump said on Fox and Friends Tuesday morning. "I thought he was okay. I thought he was fine. I mean, nothing outstanding. I thought he — he gave me very unfair questions at the end, the last three, four questions. But, you know, I'm not complaining about that. I thought he was okay."

Holt may get off easy with Trump's change of heart, but the Republican nominee's "terrible" microphone was not so lucky. Lauren Hansen

9:23 a.m. ET
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Donald Trump swears he isn't trying to start any "conspiracy theories," but he couldn't help but wonder Tuesday morning on Fox & Friends whether anyone else noticed something fishy about his microphone at Monday night's presidential debate. "I had a problem with a microphone that didn't work. My microphone was terrible. I wonder, was it set up that way on purpose? My microphone — in the room they couldn't hear me, you know, it was going on and off. Which isn't exactly great. I wonder if it was set up that way, but it was terrible," Trump said, noting his microphone was "crackling" and Clinton "didn't have that problem."

And, just in case you were wondering, that sound you may have heard during the debate was not Trump sniffling. Nope — that too was all the fault of a defective mic, he said. "No, no sniffles," Trump said. "No, you know, the mic was very bad, but maybe it was good enough to hear breathing, but there was no sniffles." Becca Stanek

8:54 a.m. ET

If Hillary Clinton wants to bring up Donald Trump's negative remarks about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado at the next presidential debate, she'll have some new material to pull from. In an interview with Fox & Friends on Tuesday morning — hours after Clinton called Trump out for allegedly dubbing Machado "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeping" — Trump took another swing at Machado, this time calling her the "worst we ever had, the worst, the absolute worst."

"She was the winner and she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem," Trump said. "We had to — we had a real problem, not only that, her attitude, and we had a real problem with her. So, Hillary went back into the years and she found this — this was many years ago — and found the girl and talked about her like she was Mother Teresa. It wasn't quite that way, but that's okay, Hillary has to do what she has to do."

Watch Trump's latest remarks on Machado, below. Becca Stanek

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