Season 7 – Episode 6 – “The Al Smith Dinner”

Episode Summary:

Donna joins the Santos campaign—hired by Lou Thornton, not Josh—in an episode dominated by abortion politics. An attack ad on Santos by a pro-life group puts Vinick in a bind: the furious Santos wants Vinick to repudiate it or “the gloves are off.” But the pro-choice Vinick will offend the GOP’s right wing if he does. Meanwhile, Will takes Toby’s old job, and runs into a buzz saw over the NASA leak in the press briefings.

Script:

7x06 - "THE AL SMITH DINNER"
WRITTEN BY ELI ATTIE
DIRECTED BY LESLI LINKA GLATTER

Transcribed by Soundman for www.twiztv.com. Send feedback to sparticus1611@hotmail.com.

TEASER

FADE IN: EXT.  ALLEYWAY  BUILDING  NIGHT
 DEARBORN, MICHIGAN
 63 DAYS BEFORE ELECTION DAY

Santos, Lou, Josh and Bram have gotten out of the SUV and are walking in to the hotel.

LOU
Do you realize how few voters read that ink-stained rag?

SANTOS
The New York Times? Every network producer reads it. Every nationally syndicated columnist reads it.

LOU
We can't run a campaign for editorial writers. We'd have 12 votes, half of them within walking distance of zay-bars.

JOSH
That Times piece is ten times worse for Vinick. He's the one dragging his feet on debate negotiations. He's the one who rejected the debate commission's plan.

LOU
They called it 'a classic case of a front-runner trying to sit on a lead.'

SANTOS
Well, I can see how it's classic. He's been leading for two months now.

JOSH
I don't know why the Times slammed us, too. We're doing everything we can to get debates; the dates Vinick wants, the locations Vinick wants.

SANTOS
You know, it's starting to look like I'm desperate to debate him.

CUT TO: EXT.  ENTRYWAY  VINICK HQ  NIGHT
 WASHINGTON, D.C.
 VINICK-SULLIVAN CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS

Vinick, Bruno and Sheila are getting out of the SUV to go to his next campaign stop.

VINICK
Will you stop?!

SHEILA
I'm just saying, watch it with the body parts.

VINICK
That's ridiculous.

SHEILA
You're the next President of the United States.

VINICK
Don't say that.

SHEILA
You have a standard to uphold.

VINICK
She held out her forearm. You want me to refuse to sign autographs?

SHEILA
You signed higher than her forearm. At which body part do you draw the line?

VINICK
Bruno, help me out here.

BRUNO
The guy's a rock star; David Cassidy meets David Rockefeller; all those body part votes.

SHEILA
He's the next President of the United States.

VINICK
Would you please stop saying that?

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL  NIGHT

Santos, Lou, Josh, Bram and several people are walking to where the next campaign stop is.

SANTOS
Vinick is a terrific debater. And every time he backs away from the negotiating table, every time his aide tells the New York Times that I'm the greatest debater since Socrates, they're lowering expectations on his performance and raising mine through the roof.

JOSH
But he doesn't need the debates. We do. There's no way to hide that.

SANTOS
What good are debates if I have to demolish him to win?

JOSH
I've got another negotiating session with Bruno tomorrow in Washington.

SANTOS
Break the logjam. And lower expectations.

JOSH
Okay, those are contradictory orders, 'cause the more I give to get an agreement, the more it's going to look...

SANTOS
Get it done.

Santos has gotten into the elevator and he leaves.

CUT TO: INT.  VINICK HQ  NIGHT

Vinick, Sheila, and Bruno are walking.

BRUNO
Santos pulled out of North Dakota and West Virginia. There is not a single state we're not competing in. We could win all 50. Get used to it, Senator.

VINICK
Neither of you is worried about this Times editorial?

BRUNO
Nope.

VINICK
They're calling me the roadblock to democracy. We still have a shot at the Times' endorsement.

BRUNO
We're going to get a deal on debates soon enough and on our terms. The Times is just rapping us on the knuckles.

SHEILA
The governor of New York called again, urging you to reconsider...

VINICK
I'm not going to the Al Smith dinner.

SHEILA
Presidential nominees always go. No one's thrilled that it's just going to be the Vice Presidential candidates.

VINICK
You know what they're going to want me to talk about.

SHEILA
The biggest political event in New York, obviously a huge deal on the Catholic community; you could go, speak about your opposition to partial-birth abortion.

BRUNO
Ohh, bad idea.

VINICK
I'm not going to give a speech about partial-birth abortion in a room full of people who think any abortion is a sin.

SHEILA
New York's competitive, Catholic vote's critical.

VINICK
And I'm pro-choice, same as Santos. I'd be crazy to engage this issue.

CUT TO: INT.  HALLWAY  HOTEL  NIGHT

Santos is walking to his room. Bram is walking with him.

BRAM
You got another call from the New York State Party about...

SANTOS
Have Josh return it.

BRAM
Who's Al Smith anyway?

SANTOS
First Catholic to run for President; 1928.

They walk into Santos's room.

BRAM
Why's the dinner such a big deal?

SANTOS
Oh, it's a big benefit to Catholic charities. It's the most political non-political event in New York.

BRAM
A ballroom full of Catholics should be your crowd. Vinick doesn't even go to church.

SANTOS
That's just what I need.

He flips on the TV.

SANTOS
A contest over who gets the most 'boos' for the line 'I support a woman's right to choose.' Leo will handle it.

BRAM
6:00 wake-up?

SANTOS
Make it 5:30.

Bram leaves. We hear a newsanchor on TV.

ANCHOR
While Senator Vinick is back in Washington, Congressman Matthew Santos is in Michigan fighting for the state's 17 electoral votes. As the electoral math narrows, you can bet they'll both be in Michigan...

CUT TO: INT.  VINICK HQ  NIGHT

Vinick, Sheila, and Bruno are walking.

VINICK
Why are we talking about the environment in Michigan this weekend?

SHEILA
You talk about it everywhere.

VINICK
It's Michigan. Hug a tree, kill a Chrysler.

BRUNO
We're four points up there; we don't need to get hit for pandering.

SHEILA
You want to spend a few minutes on thank you notes for those New Mexico electorates?

VINICK
Nah, I've got the list. It's been a great day; why don't you guys get some rest.

BRUNO
Are you sure?

VINICK
Yeah. Go ahead.

He walks into his office.

SHEILA
Okay, see you in the morning.

VINICK
Okay.
...
He turns the TV on and sits at his desk.

ANCHOR
Matthew Santos is in Michigan fighting for the state's 17 electoral votes. As the electoral math narrows, you can bet they'll both be in Michigan more and more. We'll be right back after this.

As the news goes to a commercial, an election ad begins playing.

ANNOUNCER
This November, America faces a vote of conscience.

CUT TO: INT.  SANTOS' ROOM  CONTINUOUS

Santos is watching the same ad on TV. He picks up his phone and dials.

ANNOUNCER [cont.]
Matt Santos on human life:

SANTOS [on ad]
Do I want to limit access to abortion? No.

SANTOS
Turn on MSNBC.

CUT TO: INT.  VINICK'S OFFICE  CONTINUOUS

Vinick is still watching the ad. He picks up his phone and punches in a number.

ANNOUNCER
No, on telling you when your daughter wants an abortion. No, on banning partial-birth abortion.

VINICK
I need Sheila.

ANNOUNCER
Paid for by the Committee for the Integrity of Human Life.

VINICK
Who the hell is the Committee for the Integrity of Human Life, and who told them to drag abortion into my campaign?

SMASH CUT TO: MAIN TITLES.
END TEASER.
* * *

ACT ONE

FADE IN: INT.  VINICK'S OFFICE  NIGHT

Vinick is seated at his desk, talking to Sheila and Bruno.

VINICK
It's a bare-knuckle attack ad.

SHEILA
It's not our ad.

BRUNO
The public won't make the distinction.

VINICK
And you think some left-leaning committee for something or other isn't going to slam us right back?

BRUNO
Then we're in a negative ad war.

VINICK
Plus, they're hitting Santos for what a lot of Republicans think is my position on abortion.

SHEILA
The ad does lay out some pretty clear differences.

BRUNO
Which may play great to a few right-wing partisans, but it'll look phony and political to everyone else.

VINICK
I want this ad pulled. I want the Chairman of the Republican Party to say that this committee does not speak for us. I'll say it, too. If any of our people are involved in this, fire them.

CUT TO: INT.  SANTOS' ROOM  NIGHT

Santos is talking to Josh and Lou.

SANTOS
The quote is completely out of context.

JOSH
Do you remember the quote?

SANTOS
I remember what I think. They make it seem like I'm for abortion on demand.

LOU
I'm not defending the ad...

SANTOS
It's a right-wing parody of my position.

LOU
We'll find whatever piece of legislation...

SANTOS
You'll find it tonight.

LOU
It'll be hard to rebut. You voted against the partial-birth abortion ban.

SANTOS
The Republicans wouldn't carve out a clear exception for the life and health of mother.

LOU
You voted against parental consent.

SANTOS
There was no judicial override. There are pro-life judges out there refusing requests even for incest victims. I am not for unlimited abortion.

JOSH
Look, I don't know how we respond, but by tomorrow this is going to be on every cable network across the country. It's news for free and it's going to hurt us with swing voters.

LOU
If Vinick's taking the gloves off, so can we: 20 years of Senate flip-flops, 50 conflicts with his party's platform. Its fair game, no one can say it's not.

SANTOS
Josh?

JOSH
We don't know that Vinick's behind this.

LOU
He sure benefits from it.

JOSH
If we turn this campaign full-tilt negative, we can never go back.

Santos gets up.

SANTOS
Call Vinick's people. Tell them to call this the lie that it is and get it off the air. I want a counter-attack ready to go by morning if they don't.

He leaves.

CUT TO: INT.  COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE  DAY
 DAY TWO

Will and Margaret are carrying some things into Will's new office, Toby's old office.

WILL
I don't really feel comfortable working in Toby's old office.

MARGARET
Think of it as the Communications Director's office.

WILL
I can't help thinking of it as a federal crime scene.

They walk in and set the stuff down.

WILL
Have you heard from the policy shops? This Toby thing will drown out everything for another few days, but then we'll need a policy to announce.

MARGARET
TPC says they're pretty tapped out. They say we should highlight the good things the government's already doing.

WILL
Great. Wait till people find out there's a post office.

She walks out. Will opens his middle drawer to put some things in. As he does, Toby's rubber ball slides forward. He takes it out and begins to bounce it. C.J. comes to the door.

C.J.
The President's going on a three-day tour of distressed urban areas to promote investment in jobs in inner cities.

She hands him a folder and he sets it down on the desk.

WILL
I'll announce it next week.

C.J.
Try today at your first press briefing.

WILL
You don't want me briefing today.

C.J.
I do.

WILL
I need a few days to get up to speed. I don't know the first thing about the leak investigation and I haven't even sat down with Counsel.

C.J.
Refer those questions to Counsel's office.

She walks out. Will follows her.

WILL
Those questions? What about the entire briefing?

C.J.
We have to show that we've replaced Toby without missing a beat. There's an ongoing investigation. There's not much we can say about it anyway.

They hear something on the TV set that is next to where they stopped to talk. We see Toby being escorted into a court building. The headline reads "TOBY ZIEGLER MEETS WITH PROSECUTORS." C.J. looks at Will before walking away.

CUT TO: INT.  VINICK'S OFFICE  DAY

Vinick is watching Santos on TV as he leaves a campaign site. A reporter talks to him.

REPORTER [on TV]
Congressman. Sir, there's an independent ad attacking your position on abortion.

SANTOS [on TV]
It's a complete obstruction of my views.

Bruno walks in and sits next to Vinick.

VINICK
What do we know?

BRUNO
The Committee for the Integrity of Human Life is a 527; one of these independent expenditure committees.

VINICK
No connection to us or the RNC?

BRUNO
I wouldn't say that. Its major donors all give to the RNC and a few of them are big donors of yours too.

Sheila walks in.

VINICK
You talk to the Party Chair?

SHEILA
Hodder won't denounce the ad. He thinks it'd be bad for us and bad for the party.

VINICK
Has he seen it? Does he want us to get in a mud wrestling match with Matt Santos?

SHEILA
The Chairman's view is that it fires up social conservatives. It reminds them that while you may be pro-choice, Santos is for virtually unrestricted abortion.

BRUNO
You have to denounce it yourself before a huge bank of cameras.

VINICK
You want this piece of trash on the air.

SHEILA
No, but I don't want you or anybody else from this campaign criticizing pro-life anything.

BRUNO
We're trying to win a mandate in a country that's over 60% pro-choice. We cannot get cute with this.

VINICK
Hodder's got credibility with the right-to-lifers. I don't. He's the one who's got to kill this. I want to see him this afternoon right after the Maryland rally. Get your bank of cameras ready.

Bruno's phone starts ringing. He gets up to take the phone call outside.

BRUNO
Excuse me.

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL  CONTINUOUS

Josh is on the phone with Bruno.

BRUNO [VO]
Joshua. Looking forward to our next round of negotiations.

CUT TO: INT.  VINICK HQ  CONTINUOUS

BRUNO [cont.]
Maybe this time you'll propose hourly debates with breaks for IV nutrition...

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL  CONTINUOUS

BRUNO [cont.][VO]
... for the candidates.

JOSH
Your side is running a vicious, baseless attack ad.

BRUNO [VO]
It is not my side.

CUT TO: INT.  VINICK HQ  CONTINUOUS

BRUNO [cont.]
It is not my ad.

JOSH [VO]
Get that ad off the air...

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL  CONTINUOUS

JOSH [cont.]
...and renounce the sleazeballs who put it there or the gloves are off.

CUT TO: INT.  VINICK HQ  CONTINUOUS

BRUNO
There are laws against coordination with an independent...

He stops as though Josh has hung up on him.

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL  CONTINUOUS

We see that Josh has indeed hung up.

CUT TO: INT.  VINICK HQ  CONTINUOUS

Bruno closes his phone and speaks to a worker who is passing by.

BRUNO
Call the RNC. I need copies of every negative Santos spot they've been working on.

CUT TO: INT.  WHITE HOUSE  HALLWAY  DAY

Will is walking toward the Briefing Room. Margaret walks up to him and hands him a folder.

MARGARET
C.J. wanted you to have this revised POTUS schedule.

WILL
You haven't heard back from her?

MARGARET
About your request to postpone the briefing?

WILL
Right.

MARGARET
Unless you count her saying 'Don't ask if Will can postpone the briefing.'

WILL
That doesn't count.

MARGARET
Never heard back.

She walks off and Will walks to the door of the Briefing Room. He stops at the door for a couple of seconds before going in. When he goes in, several people begin snapping pictures and the entire press corps takes notice. He walks to the podium and begins the briefing.

WILL
Good morning. I'm Will Bailey, assistant to the President and new Director of Communications. I'll be conducting the daily briefings from now on and I have a statement to make at this time. One week from today the President will launch a bold and far-reaching new markets initiative  an inter-agency effort to bring jobs and private investment to distressed urban communities. We're handing out a list of initial agency efforts  small business loans, tax incentives, Commerce's new Adopt and Entrepreneur Program, which, of course, we expect to be controversial. I'll take your questions.

The reporters begin clamoring for his attention.

REPORTER #1
Did any of the White House staff know Toby Ziegler was leaking national security information?

WILL
There's an ongoing investigation. I'll refer you to the President's statement on the matter.

REPORTER #1
But it doesn't speak to that question.

WILL
I'm not going to parse his statement.

STEVE
We're not asking you to parse it.

WILL
Which is good, because I'm not going to.

REPORTER #2
Did any senior staff know Toby was lying from that very podium?

WILL
Toby Ziegler's been dismissed by the President. That should be an indication of what this White House thinks.

REPORTER #2
I'm asking what the White House knew. Two weeks ago, Toby said...

WILL
I'll refer you to Counsel on that.

CUT TO: INT.  C.J.'S OFFICE  DAY

C.J. is watching the briefing. Margaret is standing at the edge of C.J.'s desk.

MARGARET
They're crushing him like a grape.

C.J.
He's doing fine.

CUT TO: INT.  VINICK HQ  DAY

Vinick is walking with the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Steve Hodder.

HODDER
So Santos pulls out of North Dakota and West Virginia. That's great news so soon after Labor Day.

VINICK
Yeah.

HODDER
It'll give us a chance at that West Virginia second.

VINICK
Yeah.

HODDER
That Santos crew doesn't know a damn thing about party building. How you doing?

They have walked into a meeting room where Bruno and Sheila are already waiting.

BRUNO
Mr. Chairman.

HODDER
Good to see you again.

They sit.

VINICK
I don't like that abortion ad. I don't care how you deal with it; hold a press conference in the lobby, say they don't speak for the party, but I want it dealt with know. It's becoming a national story.

HODDER
No one showed me that ad. I probably wouldn't have run it. Do you know what kind of damage it would do to walk away from it? An attack that, quite frankly Arnie, lots of folks think should be in your stump speech.

VINICK
Santos and I are both pro-choice. I can't pretend there's some huge difference between our positions.

HODDER
Santos thinks my 14-year-old daughter needs my permission to get an aspirin in school; but not an abortion? The platform's pro-life. The people in this party, who do the phone-banking, plant the lawn signs, get half our guys elected, they're pro-life too.

BRUNO
Mr. Chairman, this is a rough, negative ad at a time when we don't need it. This committee knows nothing from tactics.

HODDER
Maybe it's not about tactics, maybe they mean what they say.

SHEILA
We know how hard you've been working on keeping social conservatives on the reservation.

HODDER
We were this close, this close, to a third-party candidacy from the religious right. I'm still concerned they stay home on Election Day.

VINICK
This ad hurts me as much as it hurts Santos. Maybe more.

HODDER
Pro-lifers have their issues with you but Santos is for unlimited abortion.

VINICK
If you don't denounce that ad, I'm going to have to do it myself.

HODDER
Can I speak candidly?

VINICK
Because you've been sugar-coating up till now?

HODDER
Corporate conservatives may love you, Neo-Cons and Libertarians may love you, Bruno Gianelli Democrats may love you too, but social conservatives don't. You never speak about their issues. You send mixed signals about judicial appointments. You are the first nominee in 20 years to skip the Al Smith dinner because, God forbid you might be near some religious voters. Well, I can't meet my responsibility to this party without them.

VINICK
No candidate could hold those voters together. If this were Europe the Republican Party would be three parties.

HODDER
Thank goodness they don't have to sleep together, they just have to show up on the same day and vote Republican.

VINICK
Do you realize how many states my pro-choice position puts on the table? Do you realize how we can grow this party if we're willing to reach out?

HODDER
I guess I'd like to see you unite the party that we have now. I'm not denouncing that ad. And I don't think you want to either, Arnie.

FADE OUT.
END ACT ONE.
* * *

ACT TWO

FADE IN: SANTOS' HOTEL ROOM  DAY

Santos is getting ready. Lou, Bram, and Josh are there. They are watching a TV on which we see Vinick exiting a building and we hear a reporter ask him a question.

REPORTER [on TV]
Do you have a comment on the independent ad attacking Santos on choice?

VINICK [on TV]
I oppose all 527 ads.

SANTOS
You think Vinick's behind this?

JOSH
I don't know. He could be.

He steps forward and puts a tape into the VCR.

JOSH
We found the full interview they used in the ad. It's from three years ago, KPRC in Houston.

On the tape, an interview begins between Santos and a reporter.

SANTOS [on tape]
So let's talk legislatively. Do I want to limit access to abortion? No, because there are common sense limits under the law right now. Should we work together to reduce the number of abortions? Absolutely, and that's where I think we can work together to find common ground.

SANTOS
They took my quote totally out of context.

JOSH
Yeah.

SANTOS
Yeah, so why are they running the ad on television? It's fraud.

JOSH
Well, you just said pretty clearly that you're not for limiting access. We called the stations that are running it. They're not going to pull it. They think it's a fair charge.

They have walked into the next room. Bram is on the phone and he takes the receiver away from his face.

BRAM
I've got Leo on the line. He's back at headquarters.

He turns the speakerphone on and hangs up the phone.

CUT TO: INT.  SANTOS HQ  CONTINUOUS
 SANTOS-MCGARRY CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS

Leo is on the phone with the Congressman.

SANTOS [VO]
Leo?

LEO
Congressman, you've already said it was a distortion. I worry about too tough a response beyond that. It makes this a much larger story.

LOU [VO]
It can't get any larger.

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL ROOM  CONTINUOUS

LOU [cont.]
They're already talking about it on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, probably the Home Shopping Network.

LEO [VO]
We are the pro-choice party. There's no denying it.

CUT TO: INT.  SANTOS HQ  CONTINUOUS

LEO [cont.]
I'm not sure we don't stand up and say 'Damn right I'm pro-choice. So is 60% of the country.'

SANTOS [VO]
I have to make it clear that I'm not for...

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL ROOM  CONTINUOUS

SANTOS [cont.]
...abortion without limits.

LOU
What if we hit Vinick on a completely different level? Taxes, corporate cronyism, we haul out a long list of all the special interest giveaways he supported in Congress.

SANTOS
Look, this is about something that's much more fundamental.

CUT TO: INT.  SANTOS HQ  CONTINUOUS

SANTOS [cont.][VO]
Vinick's appeal is that he's a different kind of Republican.

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL ROOM  CONTINUOUS

SANTOS [cont.]
Moderate, reasonable, pro-choice.

LOU
The Congressman's right. This ad shows that Vinick's centrism is just a bad coat of paint.

CUT TO: INT.  SANTOS HQ  CONTINUOUS

LEO
The guy has a long record of pro-choice votes.

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL ROOM  CONTINUOUS

LOU

Then why is his party platform pro-life straight up and down?

SANTOS
Well, he promised the religious right he'd appoint pro-life judges. He's obviously not too attached to that voting record.

LOU
Let this attack stand and we strip away what's different about Santos: he's a religious Catholic, not another secular Democrat who can be portrayed as hostile to heartland values.

There is silence.

SANTOS
Leo?

CUT TO: INT.  SANTOS HQ  CONTINUOUS

LEO
I worry about elevating this, but if the charge sticks it could kill us with values voters and that puts Vinick's nine-point lead in the bank.

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL ROOM  CONTINUOUS

SANTOS
We hit him and we hit him hard.

He leaves.

CUT TO: INT.  BUILDING  DAY

Josh and Lou are walking and talking.

LOU
I don't think we start with a negative ad.

JOSH
No.

LOU
We get one ready; a tough one. But our first one on Vinick will be a free media bonanza. Why waste money on an ad buy?

JOSH
We use a spokesperson for this. We don't elevate it to Santos' or Leo's level.

LOU
Clarify that our guy is not for abortion without limits.

JOSH
The ad's a sham. Anyone can see from the full interview.

LOU
Then bam, we hit Vinick with a political two-by-four.

JOSH
You don't have to be happy about this.

LOU
You don't have to be queasy about this.

JOSH
You don't know Santos the way I do. If this becomes a full-out negative...

LOU
You think he's got a glass jaw?

JOSH
I think we lose a negative ad war. I think the other side is better at this and I think they have more to work with.

LOU
I did the Merrianhoff Senate campaign. You know those charges that he had weird financial dealings with Taiwanese businessmen?

JOSH
He did.

LOU
Those were the charges. Anyway, we ran against Barrack, clean as a bar of soap. We hit him first with everything we could find. By the time he hit back, the voters thought it was just another ugly campaign; a pox on both our houses.

JOSH
You're proud of that?

LOU
I'm proud that Merrianhoff defends Medicare and Medicaid in the Senate. I'm proud that he votes against every reckless Republican tax cut. We're the blue team and there's a real war going on. Josh, do you want the right wing to get their judges?

JOSH
No.

LOU
Then stop being so queasy.

JOSH
We hit Vinick for hypocrisy; for saying he's pro-choice and letting anti-choice ideologues pick his judiciary and run lying ads.

LOU

I'll phone the language into headquarters.

JOSH
Don't use our regular spokesman. Find a woman. You know, 40-something, soccer mom.

LOU
What about debate negotiations?

JOSH
I'm meeting with Bruno this afternoon in Washington. We're still on makeup and deli trays.

LOU
There's going to be debates.

JOSH
Vinick doesn't want to incur the wrath of the New York Times anymore than we do.

LOU
We have to stop being so eager. We have to change our body language. Let them chase us for a change.

JOSH
I've had nine meetings with Bruno on this. He knows what I want, how I think.

LOU
He doesn't know me.

CUT TO: INT.  OUTER OVAL OFFICE  DAY

We see the ad running on a TV in the office. C.J. comes out of the Oval to speak to Will who is watching the ad.

WILL
Have you seen this abortion ad? It's all over cable news. They're predicting a negative ad blitz by Friday.

C.J.
I'm amazed it took them this long to get started. Someone gave the President this Eskimo adage: "The best place to store surplus food is in someone else's stomach." Use it in this afternoon's briefing.

They begin walking.

C.J. [cont.]
We're announcing 50 major private employers have joined the new markets initiative. 'Cause which would you rather have when you're hungry: rotten food or a friend...

WILL
I get it. It's just: a second briefing?

C.J.
Hmm.

WILL
You saw the wires. They counted the number of questions I was asked this morning because I didn't answer one of them.

C.J.
You thought we were going to get good coverage this week?

They have walked into C.J.'s office.

WILL
47, by the way; a career high.

C.J.
You have to let the press punch themselves out.

WILL
You're talking to the punching bag. My job is to look like I'm not completely ignorant. Counsel won't even brief me on the details of Toby's firing.

C.J.
I asked them not to.

WILL
Don't you want me to have a shred of credibility in the briefing room?

C.J.
Your ignorance is your credibility. That's why I put you in this job. And your constituents aren't in that room, they're in distressed urban areas. You brief at 4:00.

WILL
0 for 47. I'm the Jamaican Bobsledding Team.

She walks into the Roosevelt Room and shuts the door, leaving Will outside.

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL ROOM  DAY

Josh is on the phone with Otto but he is speaking to a worker who is at his desk.

JOSH
Securing America's future. Securing, not strengthening. He's not a personal trainer. [into phone] Is that statement all set?

OTTO [VO]
All set.

JOSH
Got a woman to read the thing?

CUT TO: INT.  SANTOS HQ  CONTINUOUS

Otto walks into a meeting room where several people are gathered to watch the spokeswoman on TV.

OTTO
Right out of central casting.

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL ROOM  CONTINUOUS

JOSH
No nose rings, brow piercings?

OTTO
Trust me, this girl's a cold glass of milk.

CUT TO: INT.  SANTOS HQ  CONTINUOUS

OTTO [cont.]
She was working for the Midwest Corridor Campaign. Lou asked for the binders on Vinick's Senate flip-flops.

JOSH [VO]
Yeah.

OTTO
Are we about to run our very first...?

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL ROOM  CONTINUOUS

JOSH
They're starting. I'll call you back.

CUT TO: INT.  SANTOS HQ  CONTINUOUS

Otto hangs up and they begin watching the spokeswoman.

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL ROOM  CONTINUOUS

Josh walks into a room where a TV is and hands a piece of paper to a worker.

JOSH
Uh, no. Tell him we're not doing the Al Smith dinner, not in the middle of all this.

From the TV, we hear a familiar voice.

DONNA [on TV]
Good afternoon. It is wrong and misleading to imply, through edited footage, that Congressman Santos is for abortion without limits.

Josh dials his phone.

OTTO [VO]
This is Otto.

JOSH
That's Donna.

OTTO [VO]
Who?

JOSH
The Dairy Queen, Donna Moss. What happened to our forty-something soccer mom?

CUT TO: INT.  SANTOS HQ  CONTINUOUS

OTTO
Lou hired her last week to do Midwest press. Looks too young, huh?

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL ROOM  CONTINUOUS

OTTO [cont.][VO]
Uh, the Women's Alliance for Choice just called.

CUT TO: INT.  SANTOS HQ  CONTINUOUS

OTTO [cont.]
They want an urgent meeting with the Congressman.

JOSH [VO]
Yeah. We're talking about an endorsement event.

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL ROOM  CONTINUOUS

JOSH [cont.]
Have Leo do it. I don't want Santos meeting with the pro-choice lobby till this abortion stuff cools down.

Josh hangs up.

DONNA [on TV]
And the American public needs to know which is the real Arnold Vinick. The one who supports a woman's right to choose and votes accordingly...

CUT TO: INT.  VINICK HQ  CONTINUOUS

Vinick, Sheila, and a dozen other workers are watching Donna on TV. Sheila is on the phone.

DONNA [on TV]
...or the one who's party has a pro-life platform...

SHEILA
Yes, they're ready to go.

VINICK
She's hitting me from the left and from the right.

SHEILA
We have to wait until we see what's...

VINICK
She's telling the right I'm pro-abortion, telling the left I'm a captive of the religious nuts.

SHEILA
The RNC upped their ad buy by another 750 points. Every battleground market.

VINICK
That since I don't have a functioning uterus like Tippy Hedron here, of course I'm not qualified to talk about it.

She has hung up.

SHEILA
All the networks are running pieces of the Santos abortion ad tonight.

VINICK
I ought to go out there and call it a piece of trash and a lie.

SHEILA
I don't like it either, but Hodder's not wrong. There is nothing in that ad that's inaccurate.

VINICK
Santos couldn't have written a better ad himself. They're whacking me for playing both sides.

SHEILA
The 527s raised a quarter of a million off last night's airings alone. After tonight it's going to be 20 times that much. This is energizing the very people we were afraid were going to stay home in November.

VINICK
You think I should stand by it?

SHEILA
No. I think you should scrub your Michigan swing, go to the Al Smith dinner, talk about your opposition to partial-birth abortion; and the minute the Santos campaign runs its first negative ad we run a hundred of ours.

VINICK
Years, I've been looking forward to this campaign. I never imagined it would look like this.

SHEILA
It'll look better after you win.

He walks away.

CUT TO: INT.  HALLWAY  WHITE HOUSE  DAY

Will is walking to the press room. He walks in and to the podium. Immediately, the reporters start clamoring for his attention.

WILL
Good afternoon. We're handing out lists of private sector commitments to the President's new markets initiative. It shows the business community is deeply engaged in job creation for poor communities. As the Eskimo said, "If you store your food in someone else's stomach... um, well, you'd better hope it doesn't need refrigeration."

REPORTER #2
Has the President been asked to testify in the criminal investigation?

WILL
That's a matter for Counsel.

REPORTER #1
Will he assert privilege if he has to testify?

WILL
I'll refer you to this morning's briefing.

REPORTER #1
When you said you'd get back to us on that?

WILL
See, now you're cheating. You didn't need to be referred.

REPORTER #2
Does the President consider Mr. Babish's conversations with Mr. Ziegler to be privileged?

WILL
I'm not getting into that.

STEVE
Isn't Mr. Babish also a witness?

WILL
I'd have to check with him.

REPORTER #1
Will, you've been in this job four days. When are you going to sit down with Counsel and get us some answers?

WILL
I'm not.

The reporters go crazy trying to get Will to call on them.

CUT TO: INT.  MEETING ROOM  VINICK HQ  DAY

Bruno is seated at a table. He is reading over some things and some commenting on the ad is taking place on a nearby TV. Lou walks in and sits at the opposite end of the table as Bruno.

BRUNO
Who are you?

LOU
Louise Thornton. Josh couldn't make it.

BRUNO
Stuck in Michigan?

LOU
Santos benched him. He sent me.

She has several magazines with her, one of which she is looking through.

BRUNO
We have some magazines outside if you get bored with those.

LOU
Any good ones?

BRUNO
Are we going to, how shall I say, negotiate?

LOU
Nah.

BRUNO
This may look like your dentist's waiting room. It's a negotiating session for Presidential debates.

LOU
You want as few debates as possible but you don't want to tick off the debate commission or the opinion elites, right?

BRUNO
Hmm.

LOU
And I think that Vinick could kick Santos' abortion-loving ass all over the stage. Game over, check please.

BRUNO
And...?

LOU
And I'm your best buddy on this. No debates, you can blame me. Would you like a magazine? Because I figure about a half an hour of this and I can tell the Congressman it didn't work out.

CUT TO: INT.  SANTOS HQ  DAY

Leo and Becca, from the Women's Alliance for Choice, are walking to the meeting room to discuss the WAC's endorsement.

LEO
You understand why I'm taking this meeting instead of Santos?

BECCA
He didn't want to be seen with the Woman's Alliance for Choice, not while he's trying to limit abortion.

LEO
He's not trying to limit abortion.

BECCA
That's not what his spokeswoman said.

LEO
It's a rhetorical position. President Bartlet did it too.

BECCA
President Bartlet never ran against a pro-choice Republican. We haven't endorsed a Presidential candidate yet.

LEO
I know. We're going to have to push that back a bit. See, we need moderate votes to chip into Vinick's lead. We don't want to make Santos the baby-killing candidate, if you'll excuse...

BECCA
We're thinking of endorsing Vinick.

LEO
Becca, you're not talking to some punk Congressional staffer.

BECCA
Vinick's pro-choice and he's probably going to win.

LEO
You can't honestly believe that...

BECCA
How do you close a nine-point gap? You'll be lucky if you get one debate. The way Santos has been begging for it, Vinick's expectations are so low he'll just have to avoid tripping over the podium to win.

LEO
We're the pro-choice party.

BECCA
You don't sound like it.

LEO
Vinick's the one who won't criticize his party on this; partial-birth, parental notification. He's bowing for the far-right fringes.

BECCA
But if he wins, they really will be the fringes, won't they? And then both parties will be where the party is: pro-choice down the line.

LEO
Becca, if you help a Republican get elected President...

BECCA
How many more Republicans will have the courage to stand up for a woman's right to choose?

FADE OUT.
END ACT TWO.
* * *

ACT THREE

FADE IN: INT.  STEEL FACTORY  CAMPAIGN  DAY
 PETERSBURG, VIRGINIA

Vinick is speaking with some of the workers while he is looking at the equipment.

VINICK
Thank you. The Virginia steel sector's a model for the country. You should be proud.

He walks away and Bruno joins him.

BRUNO
The debate negotiations seem to be off.

VINICK
Seem to be?

BRUNO
The Santos campaign blew them up. It's a ploy.

VINICK
Better be.

BRUNO
They need debates ten times more than us. We can wait it out. That's the bad news.

VINICK
Yeah. Let's have the good news.

BRUNO
The Women's Alliance for Choice wants an endorsement meeting.

VINICK
You're kidding.

BRUNO
The heart of the Democratic base wants to support you. Santos would be doomed. We'd win 53 states, a few desert islands.

VINICK
How do we know this isn't a setup?

BRUNO
We meet with them and we find out.

VINICK
I don't know. You know, a pro-choice group gets within 53 feet of me, the whole Republican Party would go crazy.

BRUNO
You're a pro-choice candidate. They're a pro-choice lobby. This isn't a typical election.

VINICK
I can't see how they can endorse a Republican who's against partial-birth abortion, who's for parental notification. This could be Santos screwing me.

BRUNO
I know these people. I can keep this meeting quiet.

VINICK
No.

BRUNO
The RNC has five negative ads ready that would blow Santos out of the water but it's going to harden his support on the left. It's going to make us more dependent on the right. Yeah we still win, but we win dirty. Wouldn't you rather outflank him on the left?

VINICK
If this becomes a press story, that I'm courting not just the center but the organized left, I'd be kissing off a quarter of the Republican base. I can't win without my own party. We're going to New York tomorrow. I'm speaking at the Al Smith dinner. Tell Sheila I need speech language on partial-birth abortion. Something that'll mollify the right.

He walks away.

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL ROOM  DAY

Josh is watching an ad that they have prepared to run.

ANNOUNCER [on TV]
Arnold Vinick promises he'll cut taxes. Then why do economists say that will break his pledge to balance the budget? He says he's pro-choice. They why do news reports say he told the far-right he'd pick anti-choice judges. Arnold Vinick: if he's on both sides, how can he be on your side?

Lou walks in and he stops the tape.

LOU
Hey.

JOSH
You hired Donna Moss?

LOU
No, I picked her off the street and put her on national television.

JOSH
She was the absolute wrong person for that hit on Vinick. Didn't we say forty-something with kids?

LOU
We said a woman, and she was great.

JOSH
She worked for Russell in the primary.

LOU
So did half the available Democratic talent.

JOSH
She worked for me before that.

They walk out of the room and into the main room where people are working.

LOU
Well, that is a strike against her. I can see why you're concerned. Debate negotiations are off.

JOSH
They're off?

LOU
We walked away. I gave it to the Times and the Journal.

JOSH
You better hope this works. Vinick can live without debates. If we don't get them we're toast.

LOU
That's exactly what we need to even expectations: prove we're willing to walk away. If we're lucky, the Times is going to call us a roadblock.

JOSH
Donna Moss gave dozens of bad quotes about Santos during the primary. You may run Communications but I'm campaign manager. I sign off on any new spokesperson. [pause] The Women's Alliance for Choice is thinking of endorsing Vinick.

LOU
Okay, very bad news.

JOSH
Oh, yeah.

LOU
Is it public?

JOSH
Not yet.

LOU
Maybe it'll hurt Vinick with his own right wing.

JOSH
Great. Vinick loses the right, keeps the middle and left, and the only way for us to get votes is to plaster the Ten Commandments all over our campaign bus.

He walks away.

CUT TO: INT.  HALLWAY  WHITE HOUSE  DAY

C.J. and Margaret are walking.

C.J.
1.5 million for naturally chilled water transportation? What's next, a Congressional earmark for olives?

Will walks up to them.

WILL
So, back into the breach.

C.J.
Down the hall, turn left at the crucible.

WILL
If you want to offer any tips...

C.J.
Just follow your instincts.

WILL
My instincts say to curl up in a ball in my office.

C.J.
Then just follow your job description.

WILL
Down the hall, to your left at the...

He walks away.

MARGARET
So I should tell Legislative Affairs...?

C.J.
The President's not signing the bill, not when it looks like Happy Hour at the Algonquin. See if they can get some of these earmarks out of it.

CUT TO: INT.  BRIEFING ROOM  DAY

Will is standing at the podium and he is reading a statement.

WILL
Today, I am pleased to announce that as part of our upcoming new markets tour, the President will visit the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home of the Oglala-Sue nation to talk about the importance of investing in Native American communities. I'll dodge your questions now.

The press seems amazingly subdued compared to the way they have been at the last few briefings. Steve raises his hand.

STEVE
When was the last time a sitting President visited an Indian reservation?

Will looks through his notes.

WILL
That would be Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1936. Next question.

CUT TO: INT.  HOTEL  DAY

Lou walks into the hallway where Josh is looking at a folder with some data in it.

JOSH
Hey, did you talk to Joey Lucas? She's got another version of our flip-flop spot without the monster-chiller theater music.

She grabs him and leads him back into the room.

LOU
Yeah, come with me.

JOSH
Where are we going?

LOU
Bedroom/office/staffroom.

JOSH
Okay, I don't want to seem ungracious. We've all been under a lot of pressure. It's just that...

She leads him into the bedroom and he sees that Donna is sitting on the edge of the bed.

JOSH
Hi.

DONNA
Hi.

LOU
I don't know what the problem is between you two, but she's great on television and I don't care if she worked for Francisco Franco in the primary, right now it's all hands on deck. So work it out.

She hands him a folder. He takes it and she leaves.

JOSH
What kind of on-the-record experience do you have?

DONNA
Is this a job interview?

JOSH
I'm campaign manager, I hire the staff. It generally involves an interview. On-the-record experience?

DONNA
Six hours ago, nationally televised press conference, Santos-McGarry campaign.

JOSH
References if we want to pursue this?

DONNA
Josh Lyman, campaign manager, try the main switchboard.

JOSH
Did he tell you campaigns require loyalty; you don't go working for the other guy?

DONNA
Who happened to be the Party's front-runner.

JOSH
You knew I wasn't supporting him; me, your mentor in professional politics.

DONNA
The guy who taught me to answer the phone, who kept me in grunt-level servitude because I knew he liked his hamburgers burnt like hockey pucks?

JOSH
You ditched me when I gave you a career.

DONNA
As a short-order cook, I'm still waiting for the spatula to...

Lou comes back in.

LOU
I hope you two are getting along like peas in a pod. It just broke over the wires: Women's Alliance wants to meet with Vinick. I need you to spin it bad for, him fine for us.

Josh walk out.

DONNA
How is that even possible?

LOU
Bad for us, worse for him; whatever sticks to the wall.

JOSH
How's the Congressman?

BRAM
He's been better.

LOU
The Women's Alliance?

BRAM
And two more things. Vinick changed his schedule. He's flying to New York, speaking at the Al Smith dinner. We've got 50 reporters out there wondering if we're doing the same.

JOSH
Why the hell would Vinick do the Smith dinner?

LOU
Because if he gives an in-your-face, pro-choice speech, he could seal the endorsement.

JOSH
What was the second thing?

BRAM
The bishop from Camden, New Jersey, issued a statement: 'if Santos comes to mass in Camden, he'll deny him communion. His views of abortion have placed him in a state of great sin.' How does that play with values voters?

CUT TO: INT.  LIMO  NIGHT
 NEW YORK, NEW YORK

Leo is being driven to the Al Smith Dinner. He is on the phone with Santos.

LEO
Don't be spooked by the Times. The staff was right to blow off the debate negotiations. A bad editorial never killed anyone; not that I won't hear about it at this DCCC dinner.

SANTOS [VO]
You heard about the diocese of Camden?

LEO
So you don't go to mass in Camden.

CUT TO: INT.  BUILDING  CONTINUOUS

Santos is walking to the stairs while he talks to Leo.

SANTOS
Lou and Joey are almost done with our first negative ad.

LEO
I know you wanted a more...

CUT TO: EXT.  BUILDING CONTINUOUS

LEO [cont.]
...substantive campaign.

CUT TO: INT.  STAIRWELL  CONTINUOUS

SANTOS
Well, that's not what bothers me about it.

CUT TO: EXT.  BUILDING CONTINUOUS

LEO
What, then?

SANTOS [VO]
Negative ads work.

CUT TO: INT.  STAIRWELL  CONTINUOUS

SANTOS
And the more we run them, the more people believe the worst about us. And so we pummel each other to the ground and whoever crawls across the finish line wins.

CUT TO: EXT.  BUILDING CONTINUOUS

LEO
Yeah.

CUT TO: INT.  STAIRWELL  CONTINUOUS

SANTOS
How do I get back the Women's Alliance for Choice?

LEO [VO]
Come to New York tomorrow and meet with them.

CUT TO: EXT.  BUILDING CONTINUOUS

LEO [cont.]
Tell them you're taking the stage at the Al Smith dinner right next to Vinick and defending a woman's right to choose. And be ready for me to be the only guy clapping.

CUT TO: INT.  PARKING GARAGE  CONTINUOUS

SANTOS
So I'm the abortion-without-limits guy, huh?

LEO [VO]
We're the pro-choice party.

CUT TO: INT.  BUILDING CONTINUOUS

LEO
You've got to dance with the one who brung you.

CUT TO: INT.  PARKING GARAGE  CONTINUOUS

Santos hangs up the phone and gets into the car.

FADE OUT.
END ACT THREE.
* * *

ACT FOUR

FADE IN: INT.  SUBURBAN  DAY
 DAY THREE

Josh, Bram, Lou, and Donna are riding to the campaign stop.

JOSH
Vinick just landed in New York, too. Still no intelligence on what he's saying at the Smith dinner.

BRAM
What kind of hit did we take in last night's tracking poll?

JOSH
Four points on "Shares our values" but Vinick took a bigger hit. 59% think he should denounce the ad more swing voters think he's a typical Republican.

LOU
They won't when he's endorsed by the leading pro-choice group in America.

JOSH
We need a way to spin it if they do endorse Vinick. It'd be a political earthquake.

BRAM
From a group that's supposedly on our side.

DONNA
They're not on our side. They're on their own side. They're an interest group jockeying for influence. You think they're supporters of a Republican no matter what they're leadership says? Pull back. I bet 85% of them are dyed-in-the-sackcloth Santos supporters.

JOSH
Phone Joey with that question for tomorrow's poll.

LOU
I'm on it.

CUT TO: INT.  C.J.'S OFFICE  NIGHT

C.J. is at her desk. Will comes in.

C.J.
I need you to talk to Treasury about that debt relief report. The President's interested in doing an event on it.

WILL
Sure.

C.J.
And he thinks the agency response to new markets has been a bit thin. You should crack a few sub-cabinet heads.

WILL
Did you see today's briefing?

C.J.
Yeah. We need a better answer on the energy bill. It's not your fault. DOE's been dickering around.

WILL
Right.

He walks out.

CUT TO: INT.  WILL'S OFFICE  NIGHT

We see walk into his office from the Communications office.

WILL
Set up a call with McGinn at Treasury and I need a fresh list of those agency commitments.

When he walks in, he sees a rubber ball, identical to the one Toby used, sitting on top of his desk with a red ribbon tied around it. He picks it up and bounces it a few times. He sits down in his chair as the phone rings. He answers it.

WILL
Will Bailey. ... Seagle, the pressure's all mine. ... On the record, I'd say it's something either administration would have to love.

He begins bouncing the ball.

WILL
It's pro-business, it's anti-poverty. ... The investigation's ongoing. I really can't comment.

He throws the ball against the wall and it flies over his head. He reaches up to try to grab it and he and the chair topple over backwards. He tries to stand and speaks to the person he is talking to.

WILL
Seagle? ... No, keep talking. I'm not going anywhere.

CUT TO: EXT.  HOTEL  NIGHT
 WALDORF-ASTORIA HOTEL, NEW YORK CITY

Lou, Josh, Bram and Santos are walking into the building for the Al Smith dinner. They meet with Leo, who is waiting.

SANTOS
That ad's pretty tough.

LOU
The debate's still in the air. We can't afford to take our foot off the gas.

SANTOS
Vinick will hit back. He's probably already bought the air time.

JOSH
He has.

SANTOS
Leo.

BRAM
We'll do the meeting with the Women's Alliance for Choice in the hall up there. You and Mr. McGarry don't have to be onstage for a half an hour.

SANTOS
All right. We'll talk about our ad buy after the dinner.

JOSH
We'll see you in there, Congressman.

Santos and Leo head inside. Josh, Bram, and Lou head a different way.

CUT TO: EXT.  HOTEL  NIGHT

Vinick and Hodder are walking into the same hotel.

HODDER
I hope you're going to give a tough speech on partial-birth abortion tonight. These folks need to hear it. This story about the Women's Alliance won't even endorse you. It's a disaster.

VINICK
Because I'd get more votes for a position I happen to hold?

CUT TO: INT.  BUILDING  NIGHT

Leo and Santos are walking to their meeting.

LEO
You can't let this communion thing bother you. Most Catholics are pro-choice. How do bishops expect politicians to do what they can't do in their own church? And the Bible's silent on the issue; not one word that says it's the destruction of a human life.

SANTOS
It is.

LEO
You're pro-life?

SANTOS
I believe life begins at conception.

LEO
Well ain't that a kick in the pulpit.

CUT TO: INT.  BUILDING  NIGHT

Vinick and Hodder are walking and talking.

VINICK
Politics is about practicality.

HODDER
Not if you think abortion is murder.

VINICK
Whether you do or not, Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for decades. Most of the country is not ready to change that. Neither am I.

HODDER
Well, that's not the party's position.

VINICK
I joined this party because the liberals were the ones who always wanted something from the government. We just wanted government to leave us alone. Especially when there's no consensus otherwise. I'm trying to lead the majority who agrees on that, not the minority who wants to enact their version of Leviticus into law.

HODDER
We're a big tent, Arnie; room enough for all.

VINICK
You're going to denounce that ad tonight.

HODDER
I'm not responsible for making you more palatable with the abortion lobby.

VINICK
Denounce that ad or I'll do it in my speech in front of two dozen bishops and a tent full of Catholic charities.

Vinick walks away.

CUT TO: INT.  STORE AREA  NIGHT

Santos and Leo are speaking with Becca. Bram is also there.

BECCA
Leo tells me that you might defend the right to choose tonight. Proudly, aggressively; this would be a gutsy place to do it.

LEO
We are the pro-choice ticket, Becca.

BECCA
I still believe that the Women's Alliance needs to encourage pro-choice Republicans and the Democratic Party needs to as well.

SANTOS
What we need to make clear is that we're not hostile to people who are anti-abortion.

BECCA
Pro-choice means anyone can do what they want.

SANTOS
Yeah, but it shouldn't mean that we're proud of whatever they choose. Maybe all this chest-beating is the reason the right can get away with that ad; the reason why a leader of my church can exile me for not trying to impose my religion on the rest of the country, and we're surprised that there are people out there who think we're for unlimited abortion. That there are actually voters, who are pro-choice, that think that we're too extreme.

BECCA
Political posturing aside, precisely what limits are you for?

SANTOS
Do you support abortion to support the sex of the baby?

BECCA
Of course not.

SANTOS
How about after an IQ test?

BECCA
No.

SANTOS
Well, then you support limits on abortion yourself. Isn't it all a matter of degrees after that? Who are you, who are any of us, to say where someone should draw the line for themselves?

BECCA
I'd like to know what you're saying tonight.

SANTOS
That abortion is a tragedy. That it should be legal, it should be safe; it should be a lot rarer than it is now. If you have a problem with that, then endorse whoever you want.

He and Bram leave. Leo follows them.

We follow them out and up the stairs as they walk toward the waiting point.

CUT TO: INT.  KITCHEN  NIGHT

We see Vinick being led to the door through which he will enter the auditorium.

CUT TO: INT.  KITCHEN  NIGHT

We see Santos being led to the door thorough which he will enter the auditorium.

CUT TO: INT.  KITCHEN  NIGHT

Vinick comes to some double doors and stops. We see Santos come to an identical door at the other end of the wall. Bram leaves him.

BRAM
[whispering] You'll go in after the intro.

Santos looks down to the other end of the room and sees Vinick. He turns his head back. Vinick turns his head and sees Santos. He turns back. They each look at the other again.

SANTOS
Next time you decide to smear me maybe you'll have the guts to do it yourself.

VINICK
I had nothing to do with that ad. You blew off the debates. It's clear what kind of campaign you want.

SANTOS
Oh, I forgot how eager you were for debates.

Vinick comes down the walkway and Santos approaches him from his own end.

VINICK
And next time you send left-wing lobbyists to my office don't forget the gift card.

SANTOS
You want an ugly campaign you're going to get one.

VINICK
I didn't start this.

SANTOS
Nah, you henchmen did it for you.

There is a moment of awkward silence.

SANTOS
You're hitting me on partial-birth tonight, aren't you?

He shakes his head and chuckles.

VINICK
Here we are, a Presidential campaign, grand national debate, pounding each other on one of the few things we basically agree on.

They turn to walk away but Santos turns back.

SANTOS
Then let's negotiate now.

VINICK
Excuse me.

SANTOS
No backroom tactics. You and me, a real debate.

VINICK
Oh, please.

SANTOS
A real debate, really.

VINICK
No negative ads. No attacks in our speeches out there.

SANTOS
If we can have a real debate on the issues, just you and me.

VINICK
How's Sunday night?

Santos holds out his hand. Vinick shakes it.

VINICK
It's a hell of a way to end your campaign.

SANTOS
Oh, I'm just getting started.

We hear applause from the other room.

ANNOUNCER [VO]
We're delighted to welcome to the Al Smith dinner, Senator Arnold Vinick of California and Congressman Matthew Santos of Texas.

They both enter the room amid a torrent of applause.

DISSOLVE TO: END TITLES.
FADE TO BLACK.
THE END.
* * *

The West Wing episode 7.06 "The Al Smith Dinner", original air date 30 October, 2005.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.