• With: Dan Henninger, Kim Strassel, Jason Riley, Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Bret Stephens, Matthew Kaminski, Collin Levy

    GIGOT: Spontaneous combustion.

    KAMINSKI: Exactly. And they stuck with it for far too long. And now it's very hard for them to admit, well, yes, there were security concerns before the attack, yes, there were insufficient protections for this mission the day of 9/11, the anniversary of 9/11, and afterwards not coming forward with actually what they knew.

    And (INAUDIBLE) people in the CIA and FBI are very unhappy about this. And apparently, they knew within 24 hours that it was a jihadist possibly al Qaeda-linked group that was behind this, and they didn't say so.

    GIGOT: What about Turkey and Syria, shelling across the border, Dan, the Syrian up rising now spilling over regionally? We were told that if the U.S. intervened, we'd get a wider regional conflict. We didn't intervene, we have a wider regional conflict.

    HENNINGER: Right. And it -- I mean, it is growing. Turkey -- we don't know what exactly is going to happen between Turkey and Syria, but the Turks have made sort of official preparations to go deeper into Syria, if necessary.

    And at the same time, I think you've got a situation in Iraq where you have a lot more terrorist insurgent attacks going on. You have the Iranians flying over Iraq because the Iraqis can't protect their air space.

    GIGOT: Deliver aid to...


    HENNINGER: So there is a lot shaking in the Middle East right now, and it's -- and the president, as Bret is suggesting, has been trying to keep all of this at arm's length during the election. And that's not very presidential.

    GIGOT: What would you like to hear from Romney in that speech, Matt?

    KAMINSKI: I think I'd wanted to hear -- I want to say that, you know, there's a vacuum that's been created in the Middle East. American power is in decline. And this is what happens when America is not leading in the world. The Turks want America to be engaged. They want American support. They don't get it. The same in Iraq.

    GIGOT: Bret.

    STEPHENS: I want -- I want him to say that friends come first in American foreign policy, and we are not going to favor the Egyptians at the expense of the Israelis or the Russians at the expense of the Poles or the Chinese at the expense of anyone else.

    GIGOT: OK. Bret, we'll see what he says.

    Still ahead: Shades of red in blue New England! A new poll shows Republicans Senate candidate Linda McMahon running neck and neck with her Democratic opponent in Connecticut, of all places. We'll bring you the latest on this possible Republican pickup.


    GIGOT: Turning now to the battle for control of the United States Senate, and this week, we go to Connecticut, an unlikely place for Republican pickup, but that's where a new poll finds former professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon tied with Democratic congressman Chris Murphy for the seat held by retiring Senator Joe Lieberman.

    Connecticut hasn't elected a Republican to the Senate in three decades, and Mitt Romney is running well behind President Obama there. So why is this race so close?

    We're back with Dan Henninger, Matt Kaminski and Mary Anastasia O'Grady.

    So Matt, you were up there for the Republican primary. Why is she -- Linda McMahon doing so well?

    KAMINSKI: Well, she's a marketing specialist and she's managed to rebrand herself for this campaign. She lost terribly in 2010...

    GIGOT: Twelve points.

    KAMINSKI: ... by 12 points. She spent $50 million, got nowhere. But this time around, she saw what her vulnerabilities were. People saw her as overly aggressive, you know, a wrestling promoter, and she's actually managed to turn herself, using ads, into a grandmotherly, moderate, softer figure...

    GIGOT: She's stopped throwing people out of the ring, is that it?


    KAMINSKI: Pretty much. But I think she has a very controlled message. And plus, she's managed to go on...

    GIGOT: What's she running on? What is -- what is -- what is her message?

    KAMINSKI: Her message is actually fairly negative. I mean, she's running on -- well, the positive side is, I was in business, I bring this experience.

    GIGOT: I'm an outsider, not part of Congress.

    KAMINSKI: Right.

    GIGOT: I can shake it up.

    KAMINSKI: Exactly. But the reason why she's ahead here is because she -- starting in August, she went very strong after Chris Murphy, the Democratic candidate. She has great opposition research, and they found that he had been late on paying his mortgage, had some other financial problems. And for the last six weeks, she's been really hitting him hard on that, which has put him totally on the defensive.

    GIGOT: All right, let's run back-to-back ads we have from the two candidates and you can get a flavor of what Matt's talking about.


    REP. CHRIS MURPHY, D-CONNECTICUT SENATE CANDIDATE: My grandfather and great-grandfather worked in Connecticut factories. My family's rooted in the middle class. So my jobs plan starts with a "buy America" initiative to create Connecticut jobs, and my tax plan cuts taxes for the middle class.

    But Linda McMahon's tax plan -- it gives her a $7 million tax cut and it cuts programs for Connecticut's middle class and Medicare for seniors. Linda McMahon never fought for the middle class. I do.

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chris Murphy attacks Linda on Social Security and Medicare. But Murphy didn't tell us the truth about when he was sued in court for not paying his rent, sued for not paying his mortgage or missing nearly 80 percent of his committee hearings. So do you think Murphy is telling the truth now? Two facts. On March 2010, Murphy voted to cut Medicare $716 billion! And Linda McMahon has pledged no cuts to Medicare or Social Security.


    GIGOT: All right, pretty cookie cutter Democratic ad from Murphy saying, basically, you know, I'm a tribune of the middle class and she's for the rich, and Oh, they're going to cut Grandma, throw her in the snowbank.

    Who's getting the best of this exchange?