Inside Politics: Intel chairman challenges account of embassy attack

A leading House Republican is challenging the White House’s initial account that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya was a spontaneous assault tied to protests over an anti-Islam video.

President Obama has said extremists used the video as an excuse to launch the attack, which killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday he’d seen “no information” that anti-film protests were ongoing prior to the assault and that the administration was “ill-advised” to link the two.

Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to the Obama campaign, told “Fox News Sunday” that the investigation continues and “no one wants to get to the bottom of this more than the president.”

CONNECTICUT

Senate candidate tries a new, softer approach

NAUGATUCK — Wealthy former pro wrestling executive Linda McMahon is shifting her image from groin-kicking CEO to grandmother in her second bid for a Senate seat from Connecticut.

Polls show the strategy seems to be working against three-term Democratic congressman Christopher S. Murphy.

A Quinnipiac University survey shows the race virtually tied, and Mrs. McMahon having narrowed her 20-point deficit among women in 2010 to just 4 points now. Democrats are pumping in money for attack ads to help slow Mrs. McMahon’s momentum.

The more motherly Mrs. McMahon contrasts with her image in 2010, when a video showed her appearing to kick a man in the groin as part of a skit.

The Connecticut race is a bright spot for Republicans struggling to gain the four Senate seats they need to win the majority.

WISCONSIN

Obama, Baldwin take double-digit lead

Recent polls have shown that Wisconsin voters are leaning toward President Obama and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who is running for the U.S. Senate, but few have been so heavily in the two Democrats’ favor as one released Monday.

A poll by We Ask America shows that 53 percent of likely voters in the Badger State plan to vote for Mr. Obama, compared with just 41 percent for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

The numbers are nearly identical in the state’s Senate race, where Ms. Baldwin has support from 52 percent of likely voters compared with 40 percent for former Gov. Tommy Thompson, the GOP candidate.

Numerous polls indicate that Democratic support in Wisconsin has surged since early August, when Mr. Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate helped Republicans draw even in the presidential race and gave them hope of winning the state for the first time since 1984.

OHIO

Ryan says Obama’s plan puts military in jeopardy

LIMA — Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan says President Obama’s attempt to cut military spending is putting Americans at risk overseas.

Mr. Ryan on Monday kicked off three days of campaigning in battleground Ohio by the GOP presidential ticket. Mr. Ryan campaigned in the town of Lima that’s home to a tank plant on the government chopping block.

The Wisconsin congressman says gutting the military will embolden enemies abroad. But Mr. Ryan didn’t tell his audience that he voted for the defense cuts he’s now criticizing on the campaign trail.

Mr. Ryan and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will campaign together in Ohio on Tuesday and Wednesday. Mr. Obama also will campaign in the state Wednesday.

Recent polls in Ohio show the incumbent Democrat with a slim lead over his Republican rival.

NEW JERSEY

Lawmaker touts ‘Snooki’ legislation to protect towns

ATLANTIC CITY — A New Jersey lawmaker wants towns to have a say in the filming of reality TV shows within their boundaries before a Situation develops.

Ocean County Republican Assemblyman Ronald Dancer on Monday introduced legislation for a Snookiville Law. The law would let towns impose conditions including requiring TV crews to pay for additional police officers to assure public safety during filming.

Dancer named the bill after “Jersey Shore” cast member Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, whose show with Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and others recently ended its three-year run in Seaside Heights.

The MTV show’s cast members were involved in scuffles and drunken public displays. Police officers routinely were assigned to areas where filming occurred.

Snooki and co-star Jennifer “JWoww” Farley have been filming a spinoff series in nearby Manchester. Authorities there have reported no problems. MTV has no comment.

NEW YORK

Departing senator to focus on her memoir

NEW YORK — Sen. Olympia J. Snowe plans a few words about politics even after leaving office.

The Maine Republican, who has cited Washington’s partisan atmosphere as the reason she is stepping down this year, has a deal with Weinstein Books for a publication due out in the spring. Weinstein announced Monday that the book, currently untitled, is a “memoir and call to action.”

Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Ms. Snowe, a consistent vote-winner for decades, shocked Maine’s political establishment in February when she announced she would not seek re-election after three terms.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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