In the News and On the Air: Tricks, No Treats

Tricky Voting. Our theme for the morning comes from a Republican-leaning voter in Texas: "It sounds a little tricky."

He'd just learned how to vote Republican in the district of Tom DeLay.

The scandal-plagued Congressman resigned too late to clear his name from the ballot. So his Republican replacement, Shelly Sekula-Gibbs, has to run as a write-in candidate.

She tells NPR's Wade Goodwyn that the voting process for her supporters is "a little bit long, but they have to do their best to get it right."

Pentagon Ponderings. The White House faces the tricky task of getting it right in Iraq.

NPR's Tom Bowman tells us several controversial options are being discussed at the Pentagon.

One is a "surge" in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, which would take place after the November election.

"Stay" Executed. Republicans are also fine-tuning their rhetoric.

Presidential spokesman Tony Snow acknowledged the retirement of the phrase "Stay the course." It sounded too inflexible.

The label for Democrats, "cut and run," remains in circulation, as we're hearing from two Republicans on the air today.

Hearings on the Horizon. Both parties agree on one thing likely to happen if Congress changes hands: newly empowered Democrats will investigate past acts of Bush administration.

Republicans warn against tying the government in knots during a war.

To Democrats, it's "oversight."

Bob Casey, the Democratic Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, says in an interview, "I definitely support hearings in terms of how the American people were lied to."

Casey's Republican opponent, Sen. Rick Santorum, will be heard on the program tomorrow.

The trick for Santorum is to show that he is a strong supporter of President Bush, but also an independent thinker.

Pakistani Overtures. The trick for Pakistan is to balance its love-hate relationship with the United States.

A Pakistani military official came to Washington yesterday, and spoke to reporters including NPR's Mary Louise Kelly.

The official, who did not want to be identified, wants friendlier relations with the U.S., saying that Pakistan has "laid to rest" the scandal over A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist who sold secrets to rogue nations.

Pakistan's onetime national hero remains under house arrest in Islamabad.

According to Kelly, Khan is said to "suffer from bouts of depression, he can get aggressive, and that depending on his mood, he refuses to cooperate with the interrogations."

American officials might like to know more from Khan, but aren't sure how to manage the trick. They haven't asked him a question in eight months.

Posted at 8:15 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 24

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