It’s three weeks into the presidential campaign and the Vinick camp is playing hardball. As the episode opens, Santos is on a roll, thanks to the good timing of his mandatory military-reserve training (he looks fairly commanding in his uniform). To counter it, Vinick decides to box in the Latino Santos by focusing on immigration issues. And it works, despite a grilling by Chris Matthews (who appears as himself) on Hardball. But then Vinick finds himself cornered by a religious-right group demanding a say on judicial appointments.
THE WEST WING 7x03 - "MESSAGE OF THE WEEK" WRITTEN BY LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, JR. DIRECTED BY CHRISTOPHER MISIANO Transcribed by Soundman for "TWIZ TV.COM". Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. TEASER FADE IN: INT. - AUDITORIUM - DAY MONDAY Vinick is giving a stump speech. VINICK And that's why Ray Sullivan and I are working so hard to take back the White House for the Republican Party. And with your help, we're gonna do it! The crowd cheers wildly and the band starts playing. Vinick walks offstage. A Secret Service man is waiting as well as a campaign employee named DAN. AGENT Big Sur is on the move. Secure Room ready? They walk out of the auditorium and Vinick shakes several hands as he walks down the hall. VINICK Hi. Good to see you. How are you? Hi. How are you? Dan is on the phone. DAN [into phone] All right. He hangs up. DAN Santos picked up two points in our tracking poll. AGENT Senator. This is the Secure Room, sir. The agent opens the door to the men's restroom. CHARLES FROST is there waiting for him. VINICK Perfect. FROST Morning, Senator. I'm Charles Frost and I'll be handling your daily intelligence briefing. VINICK Are you with the Agency or the NSC? FROST Well, actually, I am an Agency employee, but I have been assigned to the NSC for the last six months, so technically, I... VINICK Great. You mind if I multitask? Vinick walks over to the urinal to use the restroom. Frost turns to wait for him to finish. Vinick turns and speaks. VINICK Go ahead. FROST Well, there's a situation in Kazakhstan CUT TO: INT. - SUBURBAN - DAY Bruno Gianelli is in the car. He is on the phone with Sheila. He appears to be on speakerphone. BRUNO He should resign the Senate now so we can't be forced into any more difficult votes. CUT TO: INT. - SHEILA'S OFFICE - VINICK HEADQUARTERS - CONTINUOUS Sheila is on the phone with Bruno. She is using a hands-free device. SHEILA He'd be breaking his promise to Californian voters to serve his full six-year term. CUT TO: INT. - SUBURBAN - CONTINUOUS Bruno is still on the phone when Vinick gets in. BRUNO We've already got enough problems with his voting record. VINICK Hey, I'm proud of my voting record. Well, most of it. I'd quit the Senate in a second if I thought it'd help us win. Now it would just look like a cheap stunt. BRUNO I'm just saying... VINICK Forget it. I'm not quitting the Senate. CUT TO: INT. - SHEILA'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS SHEILA We'll just have to turn the Senate into an advantage. CUT TO: INT. - SUBURBAN - CONTINUOUS BRUNO No senator has won the Presidency since 1960. There is a reason for that. VINICK Sheila, will you please tell Bruno that when I make a decision, that's the end of the discussion. CUT TO: INT. - COFFEE ROOM - VINICK HEADQUARTERS - CONTINUOUS Sheila is getting herself some coffee while still talking on the phone. VINICK [VO] What's the next stop? SHEILA Fraternal Order of Police. CUT TO: INT. - SUBURBAN - CONTINUOUS BRUNO It's only a couple of blocks, but the Secret Service wanted us to drive. VINICK Do I give them the stump? CUT TO: INT. - COFFEE ROOM - CONTINUOUS SHEILA The stump plus. VINICK [VO] Plus what? SHEILA Homeland Security, the death penalty... a little extra law and order. CUT TO: INT. - SUBURBAN - CONTINUOUS Vinick sees a story on the TV set in the car about Santos and his Reserve training duty. SHEILA [VO] The RNC has a TV ad they want you to approve today. Leon Montera will... CUT TO: INT. - COFFEE ROOM - CONTINUOUS SHEILA [cont.] ... have the tape when you arrive. CUT TO: INT. - SUBURBAN - CONTINUOUS VINICK Are they ever going to stop showing these shots of Santos in uniform? BRUNO That's what I call a stunt. VINICK Yeah? Pretty great stunt. CUT TO: INT. - SHEILA'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS Sheila has come back into her office. SHEILA You're going to be surrounded by uniforms today, too. CUT TO: INT. - SUBURBAN - CONTINUOUS VINICK Yeah, except I won't be wearing one. BRUNO Okay, got to go. The car has stopped as they hang up the call. LEON MONTERA gets in with a laptop. He sits across from Bruno. VINICK Hey, Leon; this is Bruno. LEON MONTERA I've got a spot the RNC wants to run. He opens his laptop and turns it around for them to see a preview of an attack ad against Santos. SPEAKER In six short years in the House of Representatives, Congressman Matthew Santos has voted for higher taxes 47 times. VINICK Must be his committee votes against all the tax cut amendments. SPEAKER ... so it's no surprise that Matt Santos opposes the tax cut that Arnold Vinick thinks you deserve. How much will Matt Santos...? BRUNO Is this all you guys know how to do? Attack ads? LEON Hey... BRUNO Have you seen any of the ads I've written for this campaign? Anyone with half a brain... VINICK Leon's not with the RNC. He's one of us. He ran my California operations for years. LEON And I don't write TV ads. I leave that for the people with half a brain. VINICK Have Sheila go over to party headquarters and tell them again we're not going negative. Yet. LEON They get that, they just don't think you mean they shouldn't go negative either. BRUNO The press knows you get to approve party ads. VINICK It's a good ad. BRUNO It's a great ad; if you're ten points down. VINICK Santos is gaining on us. LEON Reserve duty sure worked. BRUNO You still have a lock on the Electoral College. A Democrat can't win without California and most of this country can't imagine Matt Santos as President. LEON 'Cause he's Latino? BRUNO Latino, inexperienced - take your pick. You don't need this ad. VINICK Tell the RNC to shelve this one for now. But if Santos says one word about my voting record - just one word - tell the RNC to carpet-bomb the swing states with that ad. I've got to go kiss some babies. Vinick steps out of the car and starts waving to the cheering crowd. SMASH CUT TO: MAIN TITLES. END TEASER. * * * ACT ONE FADE IN: INT. - HOTEL ROOM - DAY We open on a shot of Vinick on TV. VINICK [on TV] I'm Arnold Vinick, and I approved this message. We see that Vinick is set up in the hotel room and he is recording the standard I-approved-this-message bit. Bruno, Leon, Dan, and several other people are in the room during the taping. BRUNO Stronger. VINICK I'm Arnold Vinick, and I approved this message. BRUNO Softer. VINICK I'm Arnold Vinick, and I'll be the nicest President, ever, I promise. All the staffers except Bruno laugh. BRUNO Quiet. Quiet. Everybody, be quiet. Please, Senator, once again. VINICK I'm, uh... LEON Arnold Vinick. VINICK Right. Thank you, Leon. They laugh. BRUNO OK, that's it. Out! Everyone, out of here. VINICK Relax, Bruno. Let them stay. I'll get it right. I'm Arnold Vinick, and I approved this message. BRUNO Good. One more. VINICK I'm Arnold Vinick, and I approved this message. Wait, one more. I'm Arnold Vinick, and I approved this message. I think we got it. BRUNO Yep, we got it. They get up and walk out of the room. VINICK When's the meeting with the American Christian Assembly? WOMAN We're still working on it. LEON They want to do it at their headquarters in Atlanta; Sheila wants to do it at our headquarters, or on neutral territory. WOMAN Maybe in Philadelphia, tomorrow, after the VFW speech. DAN CNN just released a new poll. He holds up his phone for Vinick to see. Vinick takes out his glasses and reads it. VINICK Oh. A five-point lead? LEON Every poll out there has Santos gaining. VINICK Because he put on his old uniform for a weekend. They get out and walk out of the building toward the car. DAN There's a three-point margin of error. So really, we could be up by as much as eight. LEON Margin of error goes both ways. It could be pretty much a tie. FEMALE REPORTER Senator, does the latest poll indicate your opponent is closing in on you? DAN No time for questions. MALE REPORTER Senator, what do you think of Congressman Santos doing his Reserve duty in the middle of the campaign? FEMALE REPORTER Do you think it was a stunt? He has gotten to the car. He turns to speak to the reporters. VINICK A stunt? No, that was... that was devotion to duty. That's what makes the American military the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. And I hope Congressman Santos continues to do his duty when I'm Commander-in-Chief. CUT TO: INT. - STUDIO - DAY Josh and Santos are getting ready to do some sort of ad. Vinick is on the TV. VINICK [on TV] And I hope Congressman Santos continues to do his duty when I'm Commander-in-Chief. SANTOS I'll take any sentence that has Santos and do his duty in it. JOSH Big mistake. Vinick should have changed the subject. PRODUCER Live in Sacremento in five. SANTOS You think the uniform got to him? JOSH I know it did. Santos sits down on the set. We do not hear anything, but Santos speaks as though he is answering a question. SANTOS Oh, no, Bill. Of course it wasn't a stunt. I've always answered my country's call to duty and I always will. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK HQ - HALLWAY - DAY Sheila is coming out of the bathroom. She is on the phone with Vinick and is again using the hands-free device. SHEILA You had to do it, didn't you? You had to take a shot at Santos for getting into that uniform. VINICK [VO] I didn't take... CUT TO: EXT. - RUNWAY - CONTINUOUS Vinick and his staff is getting on their plane. VINICK [cont.] ... a shot at him. I praised his service. SHEILA [VO] Yeah, then you took a shot. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK HQ - CONTINUOUS SHEILA [cont.] Which you knew the networks would use. CUT TO: EXT. - RUNWAY - CONTINUOUS VINICK It was a cheap stunt. Santos could have delayed his Reserve duty until after the campaign. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK HQ - CONTINUOUS SHEILA Well, your little quip is keeping the Santos story alive. He's going to get another news cycle out of that cheap stunt. Which, if you ask me, was a pretty great stunt. CUT TO: INT. - PLANE - CONTINUOUS VINICK We need to be setting the agenda for this campaign. Santos should be chasing me, not the other way around. BRUNO Santos is going to have some good days. You can't let it get to you. VINICK Sheila, hold on. He hands the phone to Leon. VINICK Put this thing on speakerphone. Leon does what he asked, then sets the phone down on the table. LEON Go ahead. SHEILA [VO] We stick to the message of the week. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK HQ - CONTINUOUS SHEILA [cont.] Homeland Security. You just got the Fraternal Order of Police... CUT TO: INT. - PLANE - CONTINUOUS SHEILA [VO][cont.] ... endorsement. You're going to get the Philadelphia Police Union's endorsement after the VFW speech tomorrow. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK HQ - CONTINUOUS SHEILA [cont.] And we're working on getting you... CUT TO: INT. - PLANE - CONTINUOUS SHEILA [VO][cont.] ... the Houston Police Union's endorsement on Thursday. DAN Guy was mayor of Houston; he can't get his cops' endorsement? That's got to drive Santos up the wall. LEON Have they ever endorsed a Democrat? BRUNO This is going to be a very good week for us, Senator. Maybe next week we can do something. VINICK We've got to shake this up now. This is not business as usual. BRUNO Santos got a polling bump from the Reserve thing. That is gonna disappear just as fast... VINICK Santos is not the standard-issue Democratic candidate. DAN Yeah, he's weaker than the standard-issue Democratic candidate. VINICK Matt Santos is a lot smarter and tougher than you think. We've got to take it to him. We've got to put Santos in a jam. We can't just cross our fingers and hope for the Houston Police Union to do it for us. LEON First one to go negative is a show of weakness. VINICK I want to knock him off message without ever mentioning his name. BRUNO Look, we can find ways that can surprise him. CUT TO: INT. - SHEILA'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS Sheila is at her desk listening to the conversation. VINICK [VO] I don't want to surprise him. I want to shock him. CUT TO: INT. - PLANE - CONTINUOUS VINICK [cont.] How do we do that? LEON Go to Hawaii? BRUNO Take a vacation? Yeah, that will shock him. LEON Go to a blue state they don't expect us to compete in. Make them waste some money and time in Hawaii. VINICK Santos can read that play. DAN Go after the Latino vote? BRUNO Mm-hmm. There is a pause. Nobody answers. BRUNO Do-do I actually have to say how insane that is? VINICK I've always won the Latino vote in California. Why should I give up on that now? BRUNO Well, I don't know. Let me think. Well, maybe because you're running against a Latino candidate who's going to get about 2,000 percent of the Latino vote. VINICK Without ever opening his mouth on Latino issues? CUT TO: INT. - SHEILA'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS VINICK [VO][cont.] Immigration, Mexican border issues? CUT TO: INT. - PLANE - CONTINUOUS VINICK [VO] Without ever campaigning in the Latino communities? LEON He's got the Latino community locked up. DAN What if we just do policy announcements on Latino issues? SHEILA [VO] Waste of time. VINICK Bruno, if you're the Santos campaign, how would you respond? He thinks for a minute. BRUNO I don't know. VINICK That's the whole point: knock him off his game. Santos will never know what I'm going to do next. CUT TO: INT. - SHEILA'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS SHEILA It's too risky. Are we going to look unpredictable or are we going to look desperate? CUT TO: INT. - PLANE - CONTINUOUS VINICK All right, we're changing the message of the week. We're canceling Philadelphia. SHEILA [VO] You can't cancel the VFW! VINICK I am not a veteran of a foreign war. It's going to look like I'm playing Santos's game. Surrounding myself with military people. CUT TO: INT. - SHEILA'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS SHEILA If you cancel the VFW... CUT TO: INT. - PLANE - CONTINUOUS VINICK Cancel it. We regroup at headquarters, tonight. We plan a new message of the week. We're taking it to him, starting right now. CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - DAY Josh is on the phone in his office. Bram comes in holding a piece of paper. JOSH Uh, no. The earliest I can get him back to Cleveland is... let me see... Tuesday. ... No, not tomorrow, next Tuesday. ... Yeah, but Pennsylvania is a swing state, too. It'll take me at least four hours door-to-door to fly the candidate and the traveling press from Pittsburgh to Cleveland. He takes the phone away from his ear and covers the mouthpiece. JOSH I can't do this meeting right now. BRAM VFW says Vinick just cancelled tomorrow's speech. Josh speaks into the phone without putting it back to his ear. JOSH Hold on. He recovers the mouth. JOSH He cancelled the VFW? BRAM VFW's offering us the slot if we want it. JOSH Of course we want it. I'll get him out of New York early; have him in Philadelphia by noon. Bram puts the piece of paper in front of Josh. BRAM New CNN poll: Vinick's lead is down to five. JOSH Five?! BRAM And the Zogby poll just gave us the lead in Maine. JOSH We've got momentum, baby! Josh stands. Bram goes to the board behind Josh and colors Maine with a blue marker. JOSH We've got the big mo! He puts the phone back to his ear. JOSH Uh, okay. If I drive him to Akron, can you guarantee me Cleveland press? ... Great. That's the plan. He hangs up. JOSH Why would he cancel the VFW? What is he, sick? BRAM They haven't released the schedule for tomorrow yet. JOSH They can't have anything better to do. There's nothing better than the VFW if you're a Republican. BRAM Oh, and we got some movement on the debate negotiations. JOSH You mean the negotiations about the negotiations? BRAM Right. The Vinick camp has agreed to our demand. JOSH No. BRAM Yeah. JOSH They're willing to come here to begin negotiations? BRAM And why is that bad? JOSH Because then we don't get to blame them for dragging their feet on debate negotiations. CUT TO: INT. - HALLWAY - VINICK HQ - DAY Dan and Bruno are walking. DAN The Zogby poll just came out. Same as CNN. BRUNO Josh is going to start pushing the press to do Santos momentum stories. DAN He ain't got the big mo yet. BRUNO He's got something. They walk into a conference room. There is a map on a board and Leon is putting a blue magnet on the state of Maine. BRUNO We're losing Maine? LEON Zogby poll says Santos pulled ahead by two points in Maine. BRUNO I don't give a damn what Zogby says. We change our board when our tracking poll tells us to. The female aide from earlier is on the phone. WOMAN Hang on. She covers the mouthpiece. WOMAN Actually, that was... our own tracking in Maine now has Santos ahead by three. Leon gives Bruno a smirk and puts the magnet on the board. CUT TO: INT. - SHEILA'S OFFICE - DAY Sheila is on the phone with GEORGE ROHR, using the hands-free device. SHEILA George, I'm telling you, he would love to meet with the reverends but there's no way I can pull him off the campaign trail and get him to Atlanta. ... Georgia's not a swing state. He's ahead by 20 points there. ... I understand: the reverends don't want to look like they're begging. ... Right, but you have to understand my position here. Vinick walks in. SHEILA [cont.] Okay, why don't you come over here tonight and have the meeting for them? They preserve their dignity, I preserve my campaign schedule, and we do a little business. ... Great. See you then. She hangs up and takes the hands-free device out of her ear. SHEILA I just got you out of a meeting with the reverends. VINICK Ah, have I told you how much I love you? SHEILA But you're going to have to do a meeting with George Rohr. They start walking. VINICK That vicious little... Geez, I'd rather meet with the entire American Christian Assembly. SHEILA No, you wouldn't. George is a political professional and the reverends follow his advice. You are going to be very nice to him. VINICK You're the devil, aren't you? I have the devil running my campaign, don't I? They walk into the conference room that Bruno, Dan, and Leon are in. VINICK Okay, what do we got? SHEILA We're changing the message of the week to Immigration issues. It's the last thing Santos wants to talk about. Not just because he's Latino, but also... LEON Would we be doing this if he wasn't Latino? SHEILA Republicans have been going after the Latino vote for years now. You've made a good living helping them do it. LEON The press is going to ask if you're doing this because he's Latino. SHEILA And the answer is these are important national issues that belong in this campaign. LEON We're going to have to do better than that. VINICK What's the plan? SHEILA Dan. Dan gets up from his seat and walks over to a board where there plan is drawn up. DAN Day 1; tomorrow; policy announcement; double the border patrol. Obviously appeals to our Republican base. A photo-op in El Paso, at the border, and a photo-op with the Minutemen. You know, the civilians who are helping patrol the border down there. LEON You mean the vigilantes? DAN They're not hurting anybody. LEON A bunch of nuts patrolling the border with guns? Someone's going to get hurt. BRUNO Is there a local chapter of the Klan? Maybe we could do a drop by. DAN The Minutemen have got a lot of national press. Our base loves them. It's a good photo-op. VINICK Okay. DAN We finish day one with a dinner speech to the El Paso Chamber of Commerce. It's a day of saturation coverage in Texas, a must-win state for Santos. VINICK Next. DAN Day two, policy announcement. The Vinick Guest Worker Program. Legal status for illegals already here doing jobs Americans don't want. BRUNO Okay, this I like. Good cross-over appeal for Democrats and Independents. SHEILA Especially if we sell it as one of our sensible solutions. DAN We haven't got the events for this one worked out yet. Probably just a speech; not sure where to do it. SHEILA We can do it anywhere. The point is: get it out there and force Santos to respond. LEON Because he's Latino. SHEILA We're not... LEON The Latino community is going to know what you're doing. VINICK It's got to be more than just a speech. DAN Like...? VINICK Introduce a bill. DAN In the Senate? VINICK I still have a job there, don't I? BRUNO It's a good way to turn the Senate into an advantage. VINICK Leon, take the speech over to Leg Counsel's office and have them turn it into legislative language. The details are up to you just make sure it really is one of our sensible solutions. Sheila, start working on getting me co-sponsors and a hearing date. What's day three? DAN Central America Free Trade Agreement. VINICK That's old news. We passed that... we passed that months ago. DAN Santos has a problem with it. VINICK What, did he split with the Democrats on it? SHEILA Worse. He split with himself. DAN He voted for it in committee then voted against it on the floor. Vinick chuckles. VINICK He's not going to know what hit him. FADE OUT. END ACT ONE. * * * ACT TWO FADE IN: INT. - CONFERENCE ROOM - VINICK HEADQUARTERS - NIGHT Bruno, Dan, Sheila, and Leon are discussing the message of the week. SHEILA After the day in Texas we've got to get him back to DC to introduce the Guest Worker bill. That way, we can keep the afternoon and evening schedule we have in Ohio. DAN Just add the border patrol and the guest worker stuff to the stump. BRUNO I'm going to need him back in the studio for another TV spot. LEON I can give him to you for an hour on Friday morning. The woman sticks her head in the door. WOMAN George Rohr is here, waiting in the conference room. SHEILA Let's go. Dan and the woman walk into the conference room next door to where they were. GEORGE ROHR is waiting there. DAN Hey, George, how you doing? GEORGE ROHR Hey. Good to see you, Dan. DAN Gee, you look great. Private sector's been good to you. ROHR "Private sector"? Is that what you guys call religion? DAN I mean not working for the Speaker anymore, not stuck in the Capitol all night listening to the wit and wisdom of the House of Representatives. ROHR I do thank God for that. CUT TO: INT. - OFFICE - DAY Sheila comes into the office. Vinick is snoozing on the couch. He has his feet propped up on the arm. She taps one of his feet to wake him. SHEILA George Rohr is here. He sits up. VINICK If I win this election, George Rohr never sets foot in the White House. You got that? I mean, not even a tour. He gets up and grabs his coat that was hanging on the back of a chair. SHEILA George is going to try to jam you on judges. You've got to be receptive but not committal. "I would certainly welcome your inputs on judicial appointments, blah-blah-blah. They walk into the room where Rohr is waiting. VINICK Hey, George. Great to see you. ROHR Good to see you, Senator. VINICK Sorry I couldn't make it to Atlanta to meet with the full group, but this campaign schedule is so tight you try to change one hour of it and the whole thing comes apart. ROHR I understand. We appreciate you taking the time. VINICK Why don't we clear out the staffs so George and I can talk alone? The rest of the staff leaves and shuts the door behind them. Vinick goes over to a pizza box to get himself a slice. VINICK Can I get you anything? I think we might have a couple of slices of pepperoni here. ROHR I'm good. VINICK So what's up, George? While getting his pizza, Vinick seems as though he is not paying attention. ROHR Well, uh, as you can imagine, the Council is very, very concerned about... VINICK Sorry. The campaign's the only excuse left for someone my age to eat junk food. Please, go ahead. I'm listening. ROHR The Council's just plain worried about judges, Senator. The reverends are all afraid of the kind of judges you'd appoint. Vinick has grabbed a plate and comes and sits down. Rohr sits across from him. ROHR We're going to need a guarantee on judges; we're going to need... VINICK George, when I'm President I'm going to be very eager for input from you and the group on judicial nominations. I'm going to make the Vice President my point man on judges. You know Ray Sullivan. ROHR He's a great man, great governor. He's going to make a great VP. VINICK And you know that Ray shares your views on everything that's important to your organization. ROHR You mean "to my religion." VINICK Yeah. ROHR We're not worried about Ray Sullivan. We're worried about you. VINICK Ray likes the judges you like and I'm going to rely on Ray's recommendation. ROHR A pro-life VP making recommendations isn't enough, Senator. We need you to commit to appointing pro-life judges. VINICK Look, Santos voted for partial-birth abortion. At least I'm with you on that. ROHR Reverend Butler and the others think that just means that Santos wants to kill a few hundred more babies a year than you do. VINICK You think I want to kill babies, George? ROHR Senator, Santos is closing the gap with you. If our voters stay at home, you lose. I came to tell you how to get our voters. I came here to help you. VINICK Okay. Can we speak confidentially? CUT TO: EXT. - BORDER PATROL STATION - DAY TUESDAY EL PASO, TEXAS Dan is on the phone as they prepare for the Senator's day. DAN [into phone] Can you hear me now? ... Oh, okay, go ahead. ... All right, thanks. He has walked over to where Leon is standing. He hangs up. DAN Santos picked up another point in our tracking poll. We're down to a four-point lead. LEON If that. We pan over to where Vinick is speaking to a crowd of people. VINICK That's why I want to double the border patrol, double the man-power down here; give you guys what you need to get the job done. The easiest way for a terrorist to get into this country is to cross this border. This isn't just an immigration issue; this is a Homeland Security issue. We have to get control of our borders. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS PLANE - DAY Lou is walking down the aisle of the plane with a cup of coffee in her hand. She is stopped by Katie and another reporter. KATIE Hey, Vinick just proposed doubling the border patrol at the Mexican border. Any comment? LOU No, I was not surprised that Santos's VFW speech was interrupted by applause 18 times. Matt Santos is a combat veteran who understands... KATIE Vinick says the border is a security issue. "Got to stop Al-Queda at the Rio Grande." LOU I'll get back to you on that. KATIE Really? LOU No. She walks off. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS'S CABIN - DAY Lou walks in. Santos is looking at a clipboard with some stuff on it. He is eating a doughnut. LOU Vinick's proposing doubling the border patrol. SANTOS Hmm, how's Vinick going to pay for it if he's cutting taxes? LOU Save it for the debates. We don't need to fan that flame today. You need to keep chipping away at Vinick's lead on national security issues. SANTOS You know he might as well be saying "elect a Latino and there'll be a Mexican family sleeping on your front lawn." LOU Don't let him get to you. SANTOS That's easy for you to say. LOU Yeah. You ready for the one-on-ones? SANTOS Yep. LOU Okay, we picked up another point in our tracking; story of the day: momentum, momentum, momentum. She goes to the door and calls a reporter in. LOU Come on in, Ellen. This is Ellen Trayers of the Boston Globe. SANTOS Good morning, Ellen. Come on in. Have a seat. They sit as Lou closes the door and sits down. ELLEN TRAYERS Senator Vinick wants to double the border patrol. Do you think that will stop illegal immigration? SANTOS Ellen, every poll shows up closing the gap, gaining momentum. So suddenly you're going to hear all sorts of new proposals from the other side. But what the American people are going to hear from me is a consistent message on national security. I told the VFW today, "Keeping this country safe is my top priority." And I intend on sticking with that. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK HQ - DAY We see Bruno come through a door. He is rushing and in a hurry. He comes into Sheila's office. He comes to her computer and starts typing something in. SHEILA I thought you had to get over to Santos headquarters for debate negotiations. BRUNO You have to see this. He pulls up the Drudge Report and the headline reads "VINICK PROMISES PRO-LIFE JUDGES." When Sheila sees it, she picks up the phone and dials. SHEILA Get me the Senator. CUT TO: INT. - SUBURBAN - DAY Leon and Vinick are in the Suburban, going to their next campaign stop. Leon hands a phone to Vinick. LEON Sheila. VINICK Yeah. CUT TO: INT. - SHEILA'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS SHEILA Just a heads-up: crazy Internet thing; Drudge is reporting that sources close to the American Christian Assembly... CUT TO: INT. - SUBURBAN - CONTINUOUS SHEILA [VO][cont.] ... say you promised them approval of judges. VINICK I've got the Minutemen waiting for me here. Can we talk about this later? SHEILA [VO] The problem is... CUT TO: INT. - SHEILA'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS SHEILA [cont.] ... the press takes Drudge very seriously. CUT TO: INT. - SUBURBAN - CONTINUOUS SHEILA [VO][cont.] So we have to issue a denial. We'll put out something on paper from here. Keep it low-key. VINICK Hold off on that denial. CUT TO: INT. - SHEILA'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS SHEILA You didn't promise them anything, did you? CUT TO: INT. - SUBURBAN - CONTINUOUS VINICK We'll talk about this later. He hangs up. CUT TO: INT. - SHEILA'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS Sheila seems stunned by what he has said when she hangs up the phone. BRUNO What'd he say? SHEILA Nothing. BRUNO We've got a problem, right? FADE OUT. END ACT TWO. * * * ACT THREE FADE IN: EXT. - BORDER - TEXAS - DAY U.S./MEXICO BORDER ESPERANZA, TEXAS Vinick is speaking to the Minutemen and the press. VINICK Hi, how are you? Hi. Good to see you. He speaks to a man named HARLEY PARKER. VINICK Hi, how are you? HARLEY PARKER It's an honor, Senator. I appreciate your coming. VINICK What's your name? HARLEY Harley Parker. VINICK Have you caught anybody yet, Harley? HARLEY Well, there's a lot of publicity about us being out here. So, you know, they're probably going to find another spot to cross. VINICK Yeah, that's why we've got to get tough about this. REPORTER Senator, are you saying the Minutemen should get tough? VINICK We've got a 2,000-mile border here. And most of it is unprotected most of the time. We can't have real Homeland Security if we can't secure our borders. REPORTER Senator, the Border Patrol has asked the Minutemen to stop operations. Why do you support the Minutemen? VINICK I understand why the Minutemen are here. I understand their frustration. And I share their goals. But I agree with the Border Patrol: we should leave law enforcement to the professionals. The Minutemen are showing you why we need to double the Border Patrol. What you see here today is going to continue if the government fails to police this border. We're going to have more and more vigilantes coming here to do it themselves, and that's not the American way. The reporters start clamoring for his attention. CUT TO: INT. - MILITARY HANGAR - DAY Santos is reviewing some military planes that are being showcased. SANTOS This is a great example of how we can strengthen national security and strengthen our economy at the same time. The Air Force urgently needs more C-17's and the American workers are ready, willing, and able to do the job. ELLEN Senator Vinick says the men patrolling the Mexican border are vigilantes. Do you agree? SANTOS Ellen, I'm here to see the job that these workers are doing for America; how they're doing their part for the economy and for national security. REPORTER #1 Congressman, do you think they're vigilantes? SANTOS The C-17 is our most advanced military cargo... ELLEN Congressman, you're from a border state; what do you think we need to do to secure the border? SANTOS I don't see how you can afford to double the border patrol budget if you're going to cut taxes. We see Lou dial and put her phone to her ear. REPORTER #2 So, doubling the border patrol is a good idea that we just can't afford? SANTOS Doubling the border patrol is not going to solve the problem. ELLEN Congressman, do you agree with Senator Vinick that the Minutemen are vigilantes. SANTOS Yes, I do. LOU [into phone] We've got a problem. CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - DAY Josh is on the phone. JOSH [into phone] He agreed with Vinick? BRAM We're ready in the conference room. JOSH [into phone] Okay, try to keep him on message. I've got to go. He hangs up and he and Bram start walking toward the meeting. JOSH Vinick's killing our VFW coverage with his Mexican border junk. BRAM They sent Bruno. JOSH Of course they did. As they walk to the conference room, we see that Reporter #2 is reporting on the story. REPORTER #2 [on TV] Arnold Vinick said that the men patrolling the border are vigilantes. Matt Santos then agreed with Senator Vinick. CUT TO: INT. - CONFERENCE ROOM - SANTOS HQ - DAY Josh and Bram come into the room. Bruno is there waiting. JOSH What are you doing here? BRUNO I believe the agenda is debate negotiations. JOSH I mean what are you doing here representing a Republican candidate. BRUNO Great guy; you'd love him. JOSH Come on, he's a Republican! BRUNO I noticed that. JOSH So, did you switch parties? BRUNO Just this once. JOSH Career on the slide, you figured you grab a few headlines by signing up with the enemy. You taking a salary or a percentage of the ad buy? BRUNO I made so much money on your campaigns, I might just do this one for free. [pause] Whenever you're ready. CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - DAY Josh and Bram are watching the TV. Bruno is talking to the press, apparently right outside Santos HQ. BRUNO [on TV] We had a very productive meeting. REPORTER [on TV] Did you agree on a format? BRUNO [on TV] No. REPORTER [on TV] Did you agree on dates? BRUNO [on TV] No. REPORTER [on TV] Did you agree on a number of debates? BRUNO [on TV] No. REPORTER [on TV] How many debates is the Vinick campaign proposing? BRUNO [on TV] We think one's enough to highlight the difference between the candidates, especially since they seem to agree on so much. JOSH He came here so he could hold a press conference at our front door. BRAM Pretend there's no difference between Santos and Vinick. JOSH Slimy, sleezy, backstabbing, mother... CUT TO: INT. - SENATE BUILDING - DAY WEDNESDAY Dan is on the phone with Bruno. DAN You got any new numbers yet? BRUNO [VO] We moved up three points on the tracking. CUT TO: EXT. - PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS Bruno is walking to his car. He is using a hands-free device. BRUNO [cont.] We're ahead by seven. The border patrol thing worked with conservatives, the vigilante thing worked with liberals. Did you know he was going to call them vigilantes? CUT TO: INT. - SENATE BUILDING - CONTINUOUS DAN I had no idea. BRUNO [VO] I thought it was going to be a day of... CUT TO: EXT. - PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS BRUNO [cont.] ... red meat for conservatives, he pulls a little something out of his hat for libs. Amazing. What did he say about the pro-life judges thing? CUT TO: INT. - SENATE BUILDING - CONTINUOUS DAN He keeps avoiding the subject with me. I'm going to try to corner him after this thing. BRUNO Yeah, well, it's page one of the Atlantic Constitution today, so... When Dan sees Vinick walking into the Senate press room, he hangs up. CUT TO: EXT. - PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS Bruno hangs up and gets into his car. CUT TO: INT. - SENATE PRESS ROOM - CONTINUOUS We see Vinick walk up to the podium. VINICK Good morning. I've returned to the Senate today to introduce S.1103. CUT TO: INT. - CONFERENCE ROOM - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS Josh, Bram, and several other staffers are watching Vinick's spiel on TV. VINICK [cont.][on TV] A bill to establish a guest worker visa for farm workers and other... JOSH Guest worker visa? BRAM This guy's unbelievable. CUT TO: INT. - SENATE PRESS ROOM - CONTINUOUS VINICK [cont.] This is a sensible solution to a problem that we have to face honestly. There are currently at least ten million illegal immigrants in this country... CUT TO: INT. - CONFERENCE ROOM - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS VINICK [on TV] ...most of whom are doing a hard days work at low-paying jobs that Americans don't want. Josh's phone rings. JOSH Yeah. CUT TO: INT. - AUDITORIUM - CAMPAIGN - CONTINUOUS We see Santos giving a speech. Lou is on the phone with Josh. LOU Hey, I just got a question about a guest worker program Vinick's going to propose. CUT TO: INT. - CONFERENCE ROOM - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS JOSH He's introducing the bill in the Senate right now. CUT TO: INT. - AUDITORIUM - CAMPAIGN - CONTINUOUS LOU Sounds like he's coming at us from the left today. CUT TO: INT. - CONFERENCE ROOM - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS JOSH The only problem is when the Congressman hears about it he's going to want to be a co-sponsor of Vinick's bill. CUT TO: INT. - BUILDING - NIGHT Santos and Lou are walking and talking. SANTOS You know, I introduced a guest worker program the first year I was in Congress. I couldn't even get a hearing on it. Vinick opens his mouth about it once, it's like he's parting the Red Sea. LOU If you agree with it you're going to look like a follower, not a leader. SANTOS He's the one that's following me on this. LOU It won't look like it; not now. We can't be chasing reporters around with a six-year old page from the Congressional Record to prove you got there first. SANTOS Yeah, well, I shouldn't have been hiding on these issues. I didn't want to be the brown candidate. I didn't want to be stereotyped. Josh was right: I should have gotten out in front of all this stuff during the primaries. LOU You were great in the primaries. You won the nomination. SANTOS Lou, I shut up on Latino issues and gave Vinick this opening. LOU Vinick is going to have some good days. SANTOS We're giving him too many good days. He gets into the Suburban. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK HQ - NIGHT Vinick's staff is watching Vinick on Hardball. Chris Matthews is interviewing him. CHRIS MATTHEWS Senator, you went hard right yesterday with your border patrol idea and you managed to throw a bone to the left with the vigilantes comment. Today you went hard left with an amnesty program for illegal aliens. You're obviously trying to trip up the Santos campaign with this zigzag. Don't you run the risk of confusing voters of where you stand? VINICK Oh, I've made it very clear where I stand, Chris. CUT TO: INT. - SHEILA'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS Sheila is watching the interview. Dan walks in and stands beside her to watch it with her. VINICK Enforcement first. That's the way you have to do it at the border: stop illegal immigration and keep the terrorists out. And then once we've secured the border, we have to deal with the illegal immigrants who are already here putting in an honest day's work; doing the jobs we need them to do. DAN Perfect. CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS Josh and Bram are watching Vinick's interview. MATTHEWS Senator, where have you been on these issues? Why haven't you talked about the border patrol budget before? Why haven't you come up with a guest worker program before? Aren't you suddenly leaning on these Mexican border issues because your opponent is Latino and you figure he can't talk tough about the border patrol, or risk saying anything that sounds like amnesty for illegals? JOSH Yeah! Welcome to Hardball, Arnie. VINICK I think I counted five questions that time, Chris. JOSH Vinick's on the ropes now. MATTHEWS Come on, Senator, you're trying to jam Santos, right? JOSH Come on, Chris. Baby, keep slugging. VINICK I'm from California; I've had to live with these problems for a long time and I've worked hard on them in the Senate. But a Senator can only do so much. I want to be President because these are the kinds of problems that Presidential leadership can solve. MATTHEWS Senator, we're running out of time, but I want to ask you about the story that you have secretly pledged to appoint pro-life judges. Is that true? CUT TO: INT. - SHEILA'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS VINICK Well, Chris, the selection of federal judges and Supreme Court justices is one of the most important Presidential powers. And I hope to have a broad range of input... CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS VINICK [cont.] ... and advice on my judicial appointments, especially from my Vice President, Ray Sullivan, who, as a former federal prosecutor... MATTHEWS Senator, we're running out of time. Will you appoint pro-life judges? VINICK Chris, the Founding Fathers could have... CUT TO: INT. - GEORGE ROHR'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS Rohr is sitting at his desk, watching Vinick's interview. VINICK [cont.] ... written a litmus test for judges into the Constitution, but they chose not to. So, I don't think the President should impose a litmus test to... MATTHEWS Okay. No litmus test for judges. That's all the time we have. Thank you, Senator Vinick. VINICK Thank you, Chris. FADE OUT. END ACT THREE. * * * ACT FOUR FADE IN: HOTEL ROOM - DAY THURSDAY CHICAGO, ILLINOIS Santos is getting ready. Josh knocks and comes in. SANTOS Yeah. JOSH Morning. SANTOS What are you doing here? JOSH I just thought I'd see what it was like out on the road. SANTOS The candidate's exhausted. JOSH Well, I'll see what I can do about that. SANTOS Mm-hmm. Lou called you here so you could double-team me, huh; keep me on message? JOSH Actually we were hoping to tweak the message a little bit today by adding a couple of paragraphs about the Supreme Court to the stump. The next President's probably going to put a couple of judges on the Court. A woman's right to choose is at stake, stuff like that. The more you talk about the Court, the more the press will hammer Vinick on the judges rumor. SANTOS Do you actually think he'd promise the reverends pro-life judges? JOSH I think he wants to win. SANTOS 'Cause I can't believe he'd go that far. JOSH Yeah, well, we use the story to put pressure on Vinick. Get the press to jam him with questions about the judges instead of him jamming us with questions about the border. SANTOS He's killing me on that stuff. I have to find ways to challenge him on it. JOSH First, we have to put him on the defensive about the judges so we can get control of our message again. We've been scoring on National Security. We can get the momentum back if we... SANTOS Stay on message. JOSH If someone goes on the record saying Vinick promised pro-life judges, the story's going to explode. We'll be in the driver's seat. CUT TO: INT. - HOTEL ROOM - DAY RICHMOND, VIRGINIA Vinick, Dan, Leon, and Bruno are talking. Sheila comes in. BRUNO The New York Times loves your guest worker program. I think we might have shot at an endorsement. DAN Kiss of death for a conservative. LEON New York has 31 electoral votes. DAN I'm just saying... VINICK Leon, do you have the talking points on CAFTA? SHEILA George Rohr called me before breakfast today. He watched you on Hardball last night; he thinks you two need to have a clarifying meeting. VINICK Let Ray Sullivan talk to him; he knows how to talk to those people. She looks semi-stunned at what he has said. SHEILA "Those people" can take this election away from you'd better... VINICK I can't meet with him. SHEILA Well, he somehow got the idea that you promised him approval of judges. VINICK That's because I did. BRUNO You promised them judges? VINICK Yeah. I lied. SHEILA You lied? VINICK Yeah, so did George Rohr. He promised to keep it secret and then the first thing he does is leak it to Drudge. SHEILA You lied to George?! VINICK I lied to a liar. He slams his briefing book shut and stands in anger. VINICK He's what's wrong with this party. He's the problem, not me! SHEILA Geez. VINICK Tell that lying little creep that the United States Senate gets to advise and consent on judges, not the clergy. If his gang wants to have a say in picking judges, tell him to run for the Senate. SHEILA Are you done? VINICK Yeah. You? SHEILA Oh, yeah. VINICK I was just trying to get through the meeting. He had me cornered. So I figured, what the hell, I'll tell him what he wants to hear and then ignore him when I'm in the White House. SHEILA If you had checked with me I would have told that wouldn't work; that he would leak it and then you'd be forced to confirm or deny; either of which would hurt us with a very large block of voters! VINICK I thought you said you were done. SHEILA I lied. BRUNO Looks like it's time to call Ray Sullivan out of the bullpen. CUT TO: INT. - SENATE PRESS BRIEFING ROOM - DAY Vinick is speaking to the press. VINICK Today, I am introducing a sense of the Senate resolution urging the President to expedite implementation of the Central American Free Trade Agreement because it is an essential component to securing the Mexican border. Increasing trade with Central America is good for our economy and it's good for their economy. More jobs in Central America means less illegal immigration in this country. It's that simple. REPORTER #1 Senator, are you trying to highlight your support of CAFTA because Congressman Santos voted against it? VINICK He did? I thought he voted for it. I'm not sure how he voted. You can check on that. I certainly was surprised that so many Democrats in the House voted against helping impoverished Central American countries to build their economies, especially when it's good for our economy, too. REPORTER #2 Senator, did you promise the American Christian Assembly you would appoint pro-life judges? VINICK This is the Senate press briefing room. This isn't the place for campaign questions. Next. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS'S OFFICE - PLANE - DAY Santos is leaning his head back and has a wet rag over his eyes. Josh is talking. Lou is also there. JOSH You're probably going to get a question about CAFTA. SANTOS Because Vinick said something about CAFTA? JOSH Still, we should... SANTOS Damn, he's good. LOU Let's not play Vinick's game on CAFTA. The voters don't care about it. SANTOS Okay, let's do it. He stands up as Lou goes to the door and shows a reporter in. SANTOS I get some sleep after this, right? JOSH Two hours, I promise. LOU Ted Zukoski, Chicago Tribune. TED ZUKOSKI Hi. SANTOS Sit down, Ted. TED Thank you. They sit. TED Congressman, today Senator Vinick said he was surprised that so many Democrats voted against CAFTA. Now, do you think... SANTOS International trade agreements are an important component of our National Security plan because nations who buy from each other usually don't shoot at each other; which is why our trade relationships with China are every bit important to our... TED Why did you vote against CAFTA? SANTOS It was a complicated bill. TED Well, Senator Vinick says that the more jobs there are in Central America, the fewer people who'll be trying to get into America illegally. SANTOS Well, that's true. Look, I'm for free trade, I'm for fair trade; but CAFTA was not a fair deal for us or for Central America. TED Are you saying that CAFTA won't help Central America at all? SANTOS Of course it will, but not as much as it could have. Look, I voted for CAFTA before I voted against it. I voted for it in committee when it was a good bill. And then the special interest started hacking away at it and it was mess by the time it got to the floor. So, I voted against it. They both look at him, and he knows he messed up. CUT TO: INT. - HALLWAY - SANTOS PLANE - DAY Josh and Lou are talking. Josh is pouring himself some coffee. Lou is looking something up on her phone. JOSH We have to let him loose on CAFTA; get him into a town-hall setting, let him explain his thinking to real people, not reporters. I mean, the press is never going to let him explain voting for it and then voting against it, so we're going to have to... LOU We just got our tracking. JOSH How bad? LOU We've got Vinick up by 12. Ellen walks up. ELLEN Hey. I hear Vinick's tracking has him up by ten. JOSH That's not what we have. CUT TO: INT. - HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT HOUSTON, TEXAS Ray Sullivan is meeting with Rohr. Sheila is there. SULLIVAN George, great to see you. ROHR Good to see you, Governor. SULLIVAN I don't know why they bother to keep giving me hotel rooms: this campaign doesn't actually let the VP candidate sleep. Coffee? ROHR Uh, no thanks. We've got a serious problem. Sullivan goes to the table and pours himself a cup of coffee. SULLIVAN George, I understand why you'd like the Senator to make a public commitment on judges but you've never asked a nominee to do that before. ROHR We've never had a pro-choice nominee before. He's got to give us a reason to support him. SULLIVAN That reason's sitting right here. ROHR All due respect, Governor, but that's not enough. Now, he promises me he'll appoint pro-life judges, I tell the reverends that, and then I see him, on TV, doing the no-litmus-test bit. He humiliated me. Some of our people are begging me to release a statement saying he lied to me. SULLIVAN And I'm asking you not to do that as a personal favor to me. ROHR This is bigger than that. SULLIVAN Nothing's bigger that personal favors; not to me. You're looking at the next Vice President or the next front-runner for the Republican nomination for President. You want to be my friend, George. Believe me, being my friend's a lot better than being my enemy. ROHR We have no problem with you, Governor. SULLIVAN You've been promised a lot of things by a lot of politicians over the years. How many of them have ever come through for you? ROHR Not a lot. SULLIVAN If you want Arnie Vinick to listen to you about judges, threatening him isn't going to work. He already told you who he's going to listen to: me. You already know what kind of judges I want. You've seen the judges I've appointed as governor. You've approved every one of them. Now you've got a choice. You can cause trouble for us and it'll just help elect Matt Santos and Leo McGarry or you can be a team player - the Vinick/Sullivan team. And I'll make sure President Vinick listens to you and me about judges. [pause] I appreciate your coming, George. He gets up and puts his coat on. SULLIVAN If anyone in your organization has a problem with the Vinick/Sullivan ticket, I'll sit down with them anywhere, anytime to talk it through. You know what the worst thing about the campaign trail is? Rohr stands and Sullivan shakes his hand. SULLIVAN Surprises. I don't want any. You got that? He leaves. CUT TO: INT. - HALLWAY - HOTEL - NIGHT Vinick is being escorted to the auditorium where he is to give his next speech. Leon is following Vinick. As they come around a corner, Leon pulls a letter out of his bag. LEON Senator? Vinick turns and Leon hands him the letter. LEON I'm going back to D.C. tonight. VINICK What's this? LEON It's my letter of resignation. VINICK What? LEON Yeah. The letter is to thank you for everything from when I started in the mail room to... VINICK What's this about? What, problems with Bruno? LEON I need to spend some more time with my family. VINICK Leon, come on. LEON I never thought it was going to be Santos. He didn't have a chance at the nomination. Now we're three weeks into this and I can't do it. I can't be working all day and night to beat the first Latino nominee for President. And now that we're using his heritage against him... VINICK That's not what I'm doing. I'm talking policy. That's fair. LEON Please, Senator, I was in the meeting. VINICK If Santos is afraid to lead the country on these issues then he doesn't deserve to be President. The voters have a right to hear from the Latino candidate about Latino issues. He ought to be way out ahead of me on this stuff. LEON The twins are two and a half now. My mother-in-law just taught them how to say the word "Santos." Some day they're going to ask me what I did on this campaign. I can't tell them I did this. I can't do it. He walks away. Vinick puts the letter into his coat pocket. MAN Senator, they're ready for you. Vinick walks over to where he will go on stage. Sullivan starts walking with him. VINICK Ray. SULLIVAN Hey, Arnie. Back up by ten? We're really sticking it to him. This border stuff is killing Santos. VINICK How did it go with George Rohr? SULLIVAN I got him back in his cage for now. VINICK You promise him anything? SULLIVAN I'll tell you after the election. ANNOUNCER The next President and Vice President of the United States, Arnold Vinick and Ray Sullivan! They go out on stage amid a mass of fanfare and applause. They both wave at the crowd. DISSOLVE TO: END TITLES. FADE TO BLACK. THE END. * * *