• With: Dan Henninger; Jason Riley, Kim Strassel, Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Matt Kaminski


    GIGOT: He didn't really say that.

    KAMINSKI: He didn't really but that's the way it's seen by --


    GIGOT: Though he said --


    KAMINSKI: -- especially by Independent voters who he has to convince. But more importantly is the timing of it was terrible. He embargoed the statement because it was on 9/11 and he said, I will not due campaigning on 9/11. he embargoed the statement until after midnight. and they actually broke their own embargo and put it out on 9/11, and got in this sort of whole world of mess, which they didn't really need.

    GIGOT: Mary, what about the differences between -- the real differences between Romney foreign policy and Obama foreign policy on the Middle East? A couple of his advisors this week, Romney's advisors said that those differences would include different earlier red lines on Iran, helping the opposition in Syria with lethal weapons if need be through Arab intermediaries, and then a stronger line with Egypt, saying, if you don't protect America's interests, we'll pull that $1 billion -- we'll pull American aid.

    O'GRADY: As Dan says, they have not talked much about foreign policy. And I think one of the reasons why President Obama -- I'm sorry, Candidate Romney does not want to talk about foreign policy is he's afraid of being somehow connected to the Bush administration, which, you know, engaged in two wars and so forth.

    GIGOT: Right.

    O'GRADY: I think he could get around that problem by saying, look, I want to be -- you know, we are, as Dan says, the world leader, but I am going to break with this idea of nation building, because that's the one thing that I think that Americans really disapproved of. They don't mind, you know, the U.S. asserting its power and being a leader in the world. but, for heaven's sake, we could the not build a nation in Haiti, which is just off our coast and, you know, much smaller, and we're going to reform and create a society in Afghanistan? People are not interested in that. And I think that is how he could break with the Bush administration.

    GIGOT: Dan, briefly, is the U.S. stronger or weaker, its position in the world four years after this president came to office?

    HENNINGER: I think it's weaker relative to what's going on in the Middle East and Asia, China, the South China Sea in Japan. Red lines matter. And every morning, nations get up and calculate whether it stepped across those red lines or not. And I think the lowered profile of the United States allowed Iraq and China to step forward in a dangerous way.

    GIGOT: All right, Dan.

    Thank you all.

    When we come back, despite the turmoil in the Middle East, the presidential race went on this week here at home, with Obama enjoying a post-convention poll bounce. So will it last? And what does Mitt Romney need to do to counter it? Our panel weighs in, next.


    GIGOT: Events in the Middle East may have dominated the news this week but, here at home, the presidential campaign went on, with President Obama making a fundraising stop in Las Vegas Wednesday night and enjoying a poll bounce since the Democratic convention in Charlotte. So will it last? And what does Mitt Romney need to do to counter it?

    We're back with Dan Henninger. Also joining the fray, Wall Street Journal Political Diary editor, Jason Riley; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.

    So, Kim, you predicted the bounce on the show last week, so put on your prediction hat again and tell us, how long is this bounce going to last? And, really, how far behind is Mitt Romney?

    KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Well, I think that all depends on Mitt Romney. This is tied to the convention. prior to the start of the Democratic convention, Mitt Romney had basically fought President Obama to a draw in the polls. And now, it looks as though the president has anywhere from a four to six-point lead in national polls. and it seems that he did that by -- at the conventions, drilling in on the things that voters matter and care about most, which is the economy. he managed to make the argument that Mitt Romney should not be trusted with the economy. And that -- to reassure voters that he can. and you see that in the polls, too, in terms of people's views of their ability to handle the economy.

    And this is Mitt Romney's challenge going forward, is can he go out there and explain his own policies in a way that makes people regain the trust that he can regain the economy.

    GIGOT: Jason --


    GIGOT: -- the polls show, after Mitt Romney picked Ryan, the gap closed from three, four, five, maybe a little more, right to even. after the convention, it opened right back up to where it was.

    RILEY: And not just nationally, but in some key state polls. "Wall Street Journal" has a new poll out showing that in Ohio, Florida and Virginia Obama has opened up a five-point-plus lead in those states. Romney cannot concede those states. He probably has to win at least two at them if not all three. And --

    GIGOT: Do you share Kim's analysis of why Obama got the convention bounce, that it was rooted into different presentations of their economic argument?

    RILEY: I do. I think that the Obama campaign has put out a narrative that people are buying in terms of how we got into this mess, and to what extent it's the president's fault. and I think Romney has to do a better job of pushing --


    GIGOT: And what is the narrative?

    RILEY: Well, Bill Clinton laid it out. He said --


    GIGOT: And what is it?

    RILEY: He said that President Obama inherited a mess, that Obama's policies made sure it didn't get any worse, but that no one could have gotten us back to normal, even him.

    GIGOT: And we're on a path of --


    RILEY: And we're on a path. And it makes no sense to return the keys to the White House to the people who got us in the mess in the first place.

    GIGOT: Linking Romney with Bush in a lot of people's minds.

    HENNINGER: You know, Paul, full disclosure, on last week's program, I certainly, and I think generally we felt that neither convention had really done much to elevate their candidates. Obama has gotten a much bigger bounce I think than is anybody was predicting a week ago from this.

    Now there was one other event that has happened that I discovered, and that is the Wesleyan University Media Project measured the advertising going on from August 26th to September 8th through the convention. the Obama campaign ran 40,000 ads against the Romney campaign's 18,000 ads in those swing states. they flooded the zone with anti-Romney ads, specifically attacking Mitt's tax plan. And I think that sort of thing at that moment truly could have some effect on the polls.