Roughed up by critics, Matt Lauer jokes with Dana Carvey

After Matt Lauer's disastrous performance moderating NBC's Commander-in-Chief forum last week, there is a lot of discussion about what role moderators should play in the upcoming - and far more critical - presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The two candidates won't share the stage but will appear back-to-back to answer questions in front of current and former military members.

After a summer of success at the Conventions and the Olympics, we broke more new ground Wednesday night with the first ever Commander-in-Chief Forum. And while she is finally getting more face time in front of the press - bringing reporters on her plane and doing a Thursday press conference - she also has plenty of money to buy more controlled visibility, in the form of attack ad after attack ad. But she defended her support for USA military intervention to help oust a dictator in Libya, despite the chaotic aftermath.

Clinton called Trump's comments "totally inappropriate and undisciplined", and added: "I would never comment on any aspect of an intelligence briefing that I received".

Clinton said she regretted her decision as a USA senator from NY to vote in favor of the 2003 Iraq war and said Trump had been in favor of it as well. She also fleshed out several national security priorities if she is elected, including trying to take out the leader of the Islamic State and vowing to defeat the extremist group without putting us troops on the ground in Iraq or Syria. But he also said he would demand a plan from military leaders within 30 days of taking office.

Trump said in an interview on "Fox and Friends" Monday morning that: "Something's going on, but I just hope she gets well and gets back on the trail and we'll be seeing her at the debate". And for the first time, he opened the door to granting legal status to people living in the USA illegally who join the military. And the Wisconsin Republican says when you do that prematurely, you're likely to lose anyway. "And I could see myself working that out". "Sorry Secretary Clinton, foreign policy is like pizza delivery".

The appearances mark an intense, two-day focus on national security by Trump, who has offered tough rhetoric - but few details - on America's challenges overseas.

MSNBC, which sponsored Wednesday night's Commander-in-Chief forum, listed "nine controversial statements" Trump made during a 24-minute interview.

The one-hour forum will enable both candidates to discuss national security, veteran issues, military affairs and strategic policies. He has no military experience and has repeatedly criticized the skill of the armed forces.

Clinton has edge in national poll - and she's winning Texas?

Trump's move is likely to increase pressure on Clinton to release more information about her health.

Trump's Union League address also includes his plans to eliminate deep spending cuts, known as the "sequester", enacted when Congress failed to reach a budget compromise in 2011.

Trump's charge, delivered to a packed crowd in swing state North Carolina, marked a pointed escalation of the Republican White House hopeful's case against his Democratic challenger as both court military families in key Southern battlegrounds.

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