Between the Lines By Mark Halperin

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Amid an increasingly dramatic presidential contest, the battles for control of the Senate and House rage far behind the scenes...Democrats have an outside shot at picking up the 25 seats they need to regain the majority in the House, while Republicans have a far better chance of capturing the 50 votes they need to run the Senate chamber if--and only if--Mitt Romney takes the White House...About 75 House races are competitive, while about a dozen Senate contests remain in play...Republican expectations to easily nab Democrat Claire McCaskill's Missouri Senate seat were curbed when their nominee, Congressman Todd Akin, made his offensive remarks about rape and pregnancy...National Republicans pulled all their financing from Akin, who has declined to quit the race...While both parties have been surprised by polls that show Akin maintaining a close contest, the Democrats are deliberately holding back explosive TV ads pillorying his comments until the Sept. 25 deadline to replace him on the ballot passes...Once those commercials start, both sides believe Akin will be effectively eliminated, costing Republicans a Senate seat they were counting on and maybe their shot at the majority...Democrats keep dreaming about regaining the Speaker's gavel for Nancy Pelosi and are eyeing clusters of close House races in California, Illinois, New York and Florida, with buzzy candidates such as a Hispanic former astronaut and a female African-American sheriff...What Democrats are banking on: a repeat of 2006, when they won far more seats than some experts had predicted. What Democrats fear: last-minute infusions of super-PAC money overwhelming their candidates across the country.

What's in a (Code) Name?

Ronald Reagan was Rawhide. Richard Nixon was Searchlight. And now Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan is Bowhunter to the Secret Service, which assigns code names to Presidents, First Families, dignitaries and even celebrities who visit the White House--all so it can protect them with discretion (until, of course, the secret monikers are leaked to the media). Here are some of our favorites.

AWESOME

Eagle

Bill Clinton

Renegade

Barack Obama

Halo

Pope John Paul II

Javelin

Mitt Romney

Zorro

Antonio Banderas

Phoenix

John McCain

Energy

Chelsea Clinton

Bowhunter

Paul Ryan

Lace

Jacqueline Kennedy

Rainbow

Nancy Reagan

Citadel

24's President Palmer

Sunburn

Ted Kennedy

AWFUL

SOURCES, FROM TOP LEFT: CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR; NEW YORK TIMES; THE GRAHAM NORTON SHOW; WASHINGTON POST (2); JOHN F. KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM; GQ (2); NEW YORK TIMES (2); WASHINGTONIAN; WASHINGTON POST

Ballot-Access Update

Various measures to toughen voter-identification and access laws--dubbed voter-suppression laws by their critics--faced a strong rebuttal in federal courts the last week of August. A roundup:

Where courts are rolling back restrictions

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