• With: Kim Strassel, Dan Henninger, James Freeman, Bret Stephens, Mary Kissel, Collin Levy, David Feith

    HENNINGER: He could give some speeches. Why does he not give a series of set 30-minute speeches on the Obama record, on the economy, what his proposals would do on all of the specific issues? Why doesn't he go deeper than that campaign has been willing to go so far, as he obviously did not do in the acceptance speech? I don't get it. Why are they afraid to simply lay it out on the table at this point and give the American people a chance to choose between these two policies?

    GIGOT: Kim, can you answer Dan's question? Because based on my reporting, I cannot.


    STRASSEL: Well, I mean, I think the real issue here, what they're not doing is -- the problem I have, they keep seeming to think they can go out and tell people Obama's done a terrible job. But here is the thing, Obama has his own message and his own message right now is, you know, here -- it could be worse, it could have been worse. I fixed it. And by the way, this other guy, he is going to do all kinds of terrible things.

    GIGOT: On that point --

    STRASSEL: The only way to rebut that is go out and say what you're going to do.

    GIGOT: On that point, Kim, we want to run a clip from an Obama ad making some of their points.


    AD ANNOUNCER: He keeps saying it.

    ROMNEY: This president cannot tell us that you're better off today than when he took office.

    AD ANNOUNCER: Well, here is where we were in 2008.

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Worse financial collapse since the Great Depression.

    LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: American workers were laid off in numbers not even in over three decades.

    AD ANNOUNCER: And here is where we are today. 30 months of private sector job growth, creating 4.6 million new jobs. We're not there yet, but the real question is, whose plan is better for you?

    The president's plan asks millionaires to pay a little more, to help invest in a strong middle class, clean energy and cut the deficit.

    Mitt Romney's plan? A new 250,000 tax break for multi-millionaires, roll back regulations on the banks that crater economy, and raise taxes on the middle class.


    GIGOT: James? Effective ad?

    FREEMAN: Possibly. It included the mythical tax increase plan at the end there.

    GIGOT: Totally, totally false.

    FREEMAN: But, no, I think it could be effective because Mr. Romney has not done what -- you look back to 1980, it echoed in the beginning of that ad, are you better off than four years ago. We talked about the speeches. One thing Ronald Reagan did is he didn't say that the economy stinks under Jimmy Carter. He explained how government was strangling the economy and government had grown too big and it was a burden on the country. So I think this is an effective ad if Mr. Romney does not fell the story how we got here and how we get out.

    GIGOT: Does he need to -- the Republican candidate -- need to separate himself some, explain to voters why he's not the same as George W. Bush? Because Obama is clearly trying to link the two and say, you say it's not better, it is better and, by the way, he'd take us right back to Bush.

    HENNINGER: I think it's a little bit late to be doing that, Paul. On this Bush issue, I think perhaps what Romney should be doing is pointing out how false this charge is. George Bush did not cause the financial collapse of autumn of 2008. That was obviously rooted in toxic mortgage-backed securities, a policy that dated back at least 15 years, including Democrats who supported this sort of thing. That's explainable. So I think he should put some distance between himself and that, and then talk about what Barack Obama did in response to it, which was to spend 18 months passing the Affordable Health Care Act, which had nothing to do with raising jobs and the economy.

    GIGOT: We'll see if he gets that message together.

    When we come back, new information about the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi leaves the White House scrambling. Was it terrorism, was it preplanned? We'll have the latest, next.



    SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: What happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo, as a consequence of the video, that people gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent. Those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are quite common in post-revolutionary Libya, and that then spun out of control.

    GIGOT: That was U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on last weekend's "Fox News Sunday," describing the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as a spontaneous demonstration sparked by an anti-Muslim video that was taken over by extremists. After initially declining to characterize it as such, the Obama administration this week finally called the assault a terrorist attack, but says there was no clear evidence of advanced planning or coordination. But new information paints a far more complicated picture of the events that ended with the death of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

    Wall Street Journal foreign affairs columnist, Bret Stephens; and editorial board member, Mary Kissel, join us with more.

    Bret, how does the Susan Rice argument hold up a week later?

    BRET STEPHENS, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST:  Well, either she very poorly briefed or she was deliberately misleading her audience.

    GIGOT: Because it's not true.

    STEPHENS: It's just not true. It doesn't square with all of the reporting that's coming out about an attack that clearly was very well- coordinated, clearly very well-thought out. And this administration really needs to reconsider whether it's going to blame this video and go on an apology tour throughout the Muslim world, instead of dealing squarely with what is a terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility.

    GIGOT: Is there evidence that the U.S. knew about this in advance, and should have done more to protect that consulate?

    STEPHENS: There were a series of attacks on this, on this consulate and the --


    GIGOT: Before the September 11th anniversary.

    STEPHENS: Going back all the way to June and before then. It was very well-known that extremists, militants were well-entrenched in Benghazi, that it was a very dangerous place to be. And yet, there seemed to be an attitude on the part of the embassy and on the part of the State Department that we didn't want too much of a military presence to guard our embassies, because somehow that would be provocative. In that way, it's kind of an emblem of the Obama administration as a whole. Let's not put in too much force there because maybe they'll attack us. And the lesson is the opposite.

    GIGOT: Mary, I guess if it's the video, that it's not their fault. There isn't any responsibility. They couldn't do anything about it. It was just spontaneous street combustion, and maybe that's the motivation for the analysis last week?