From The Washington Post:
On the Republican side, there was no such unity as lawmakers struggled with how to respond to the GOP nominee’s claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin was a stronger leader than Obama.
And both parties fiercely criticized the role of the media in an election that is testing time-worn theories on how to cover presidential campaigns, aiming much of their fire Thursday at the performance of NBC’s Matt Lauer in moderating a foreign-policy forum this week.
Taken together, Thursday’s events offered a glimpse of where the final two months of the campaign appear to be headed, as the contest tightens and anxiety in both parties grows over the nominees’ chances and the possible impact on House and Senate races down the ballot.
Senior Republicans such as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) tried to avoid commenting directly on Trump’s claim that Putin has “been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.” Trump had also said at the NBC forum Wednesday night that he welcomed compliments from Putin and praised the Russian leader’s poll numbers. Trump then appeared Thursday on RT, a Russian state-funded television company, where he criticized U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. political press corps.
When asked about the praise of an autocratic foe over the sitting U.S. president, Ryan said only that “Putin is an aggressor that does not share our interests” and that the Russian president “is acting like an adversary.”
Other top Republicans were less reserved.
“Other than destroying every instrument of democracy in his own country, having opposition people killed, dismembering neighbors through military force and being the benefactor of the butcher of Damascus, he’s a good guy,” Sen. Lindsey O. …