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Here we go again with Putin!

Never before has a single foreign leader been so discussed in a presidential election more than Russia's Vladimir Putin. And in Wednesday night's debate, his name even found its way into what was supposed to be a discussion about illegal immigration. That was thanks to Hillary Clinton, who foolishly decided to talk about Putin instead of continuing to hit Trump on his immigration promises.

It all happened after moderator Chris Wallace brought up the Wikileaks revelation that she once basically advocated open borders in a speech to Goldman Sachs. Instead of clarifying her comments, Clinton immediately almost scolded Wallace and anyone reading the Wikileaks information because of the claim that that data became available because of Russian hackers. Even though some senior U.S. intelligence officials back that Russian hacking claim, Clinton very clumsily brought it up to avoid answering the question about borders. It was blatantly obvious and it her outrage about the Russian hacking seemed disingenuous.

Trump, in turn, did a decent job of quickly calling Clinton on her evasion. Then, he simply held serve by restating the fact that he "doesn't know Putin." He might have missed an opportunity of his own when he condemned any and all foreign tampering with our election, but he should have repeated that condemnation at least once.

But Putin continues to be the winner in these exchanges, because it boosts his stature even though in truth he is little more than a dictator of a country with a precarious economy and a bleak future.

Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

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