The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world. Click on the headlines for more.
CNN: Polls: Obama leads in New Hampshire; tight race in Nevada, North Carolina
New polls of likely voters in three battleground states show President Barack Obama with a lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, and with a slight advantage in Nevada and North Carolina. The NBC News/Marist/Wall Street Journal polls show Obama 7 points ahead of Romney in New Hampshire, 51% to 44%, a difference outside of the poll's sampling error of 3.1 percentage points.
CNN: Romney memo seeks to lower debate expectations
If it wasn't already clear that Mitt Romney and his allies are trying to lower expectations heading into next Wednesday's debate against President Obama in Denver, the campaign is now making it official. In a memo about the debates distributed to campaign surrogates and provided to CNN on Thursday, longtime Romney adviser Beth Myers outlines a series of reasons why the president is likely to emerge as the winner of the first debate.
CNN: Planned Parenthood hits Romney in Virginia mailboxes
Swing state television airwaves are already saturated with ads, and now – with early voting soon to be underway in several states – mailboxes are starting to fill up as well. Voters in Virginia this week received a glossy mailer from Planned Parenthood Action Fund warning that Republican nominee Mitt Romney would "turn back the clock" for women if elected.
CNN: Obama, Romney pitch to veterans in Virginia
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama courted veterans on Thursday in the battleground state of Virginia, appearing in communities that illustrate the state's heavy military presence and its reliance on defense spending for jobs. For the second-straight day, the pair campaigned in the same battleground state. Obama stopped near Virginia Beach while Romney spoke at a rally in Springfield, just down the road from the Pentagon. The two were in Ohio on Wednesday.
CNN: At least 2 dead in shooting at Minneapolis business
A man opened fire Thursday at a Minneapolis business, killing at least two people and wounding four others, three of them critically, before killing himself, police said. The incident occurred at about 4:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. ET) at Accent Signage Systems in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood, said Sgt. Steven McCarty of the Minneapolis Police Department.
CNN: Sorry about that, NFL chief says of replacements
The touchdown catch that wasn't. The first touchdown interception. The inaccurate reception. Whatever you call it, don't call the controversial call by replacement refs in the Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahwaks game a catalyst for the tentative labor deal with National Football League referees, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday. "It may have pushed the parties farther along, but we were really in intensive negotiations for the last two weeks," Goodell told reporters in a conference call Thursday to discuss the agreement, reached late Wednesday.
CNN: 3rd California police officer charged in beating death of homeless man
A third former Fullerton, California, police officer was charged in the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man, the Orange County district attorney said. Joseph Wolfe, 37, pleaded innocent Thursday to one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of use of excessive force in connection with the death of 37-year-old Kelly James Thomas on July 7, 2011.
CNN: Traffic fatalities up 9% in first half of 2012
The U.S. government reports a 9% increase in motor vehicle traffic fatalities for the first half of 2012, the largest jump during the first six months of any previous year since data was first collected in 1975. A statistical projection from January through June estimates 16,290 people died in vehicular crashes this year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
CNN Security Clearance: Defense secretary says Benghazi assault was planned terror attack
The assault on the diplomatic office in Benghazi was clearly a planned assault by terrorists, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Thursday. "As we determined the details of what took place there and how that attack took place, it became clear that there were terrorists who planned that attack," Panetta said. Panetta's comments are the most definitive to date by an administration official that the Benghazi assault was planned.
CNN: Bombs, gunfire in deadly prison outbreak in Iraq
Armed men detonated two car bombs Thursday at the gates of a jail in Tikrit, Iraq, triggering clashes with security forces that left at least 14 dead and led to the escape of dozens of prisoners, an Interior Ministry official and state news said. Attackers took over the Tasfirat prison after setting off the car bombs and clashing with authorities, an Interior Ministry official said.
CNN: U.N. says Syria refugee numbers could see huge spike
The United Nations predicted a jump in the number of Syrian refugees and appealed for nearly half a billion dollars to help meet their needs as a major rebel offensive in the country's largest city, Aleppo, got under way Thursday. Here are the latest developments in the Syrian civil war.
CNN: Netanyahu asks U.N. to draw 'red line' on Iran's nuclear bomb plans
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exhorted the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday to draw "a clear red line" to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. "It's not a question of whether Iran will get the bomb. The question is at what stage can we stop Iran from getting the bomb," said Netanyahu, who also accused Iran of aggression.
CNNMoney: Obama may be a job creator after all
Republicans may soon lose a key talking point. According to data released Thursday, President Obama may now be a net job creator. In the year following Obama's inauguration, the U.S. economy lost about 4.3 million jobs. But new figures released Thursday show 4.4 million jobs have been added back since then.
CNNMoney: Jobless claims fell to lowest level since July
The number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, hitting its lowest level since July. About 359,000 people filed jobless claims in the week ended Sept. 22, down 26,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The number of people filing for first-time claims were unchanged in the prior week.
CNNMoney: S&P 500 snaps five-day losing streak
Investors breathed a sigh of relief Thursday after Spain released its official 2013 budget. While the Spanish government had already promised to cut costs, several analysts and traders said that investors were happy to see something officially documenting Spain's willingness to move forward with necessary, albeit painful, cuts.
In case you missed it…
CNN’s Brian Todd reports on a group of Americans and Canadians sending money to Syrian rebels for weapons.