Season 6 – Episode 15 – “Freedonia”

Episode Summary:

Five days before the New Hampshire primary, a desperate Josh (Bradley Whitford) must find a way to get his trailing candidate, Congressman Santos (Jimmy Smits), into the local newspaper’s debate between the two front-runners, Vice President Russell (Gary Cole) and Hoynes (Tim Matheson), or face extinction — until they gamble on staging their own debate. When Santos brings in savvy Amy Gardner (Mary-Louise Parker) to prep him, Josh clashes with both his ex-girlfriend and his candidate over the listless campaign.


Previously on The West Wing: This morning’s finance report, – Ought to buy a few lawn signs.
– And lawns.
I’m just confused about who the viable candidate is when Russell’s gone.
I’m gonna win this thing, Toby.
Get into camo gear, sling a 12-gauge over your shoulder – get a few photos for the AP.
– With a gun? You were a Marine.
You can shoot, right? Yeah, a 20 mm chain gun, but it might be hard on the pheasant.
Don’t you actually wanna get some votes in one of these states? When’s the last time a politician answered a question he didn’t like? – You saying the debate shouldn’t matter? – I’m saying it should be better.
Look, we’re practically teaching media evasion in kindergarten now.
“Teacher, the issue isn’t whether I pinched Dorothy during milk and cookies.
The American people are more concerned with new nap mats and I got a six-point plan.
” Politicians turn them into pumpkin-judging contests.
Oh, yeah.
Sometimes, sure.
But it’s also the rules of the game.
Look, we’ve got one more debate before this New Hampshire primary.
Do we really want another joint photo op another 90-second sound bite followed by a 60-second sound bite? A beauty pageant without beauty? I think you’re beautiful.
Maybe I’m working against myself, but the Dover Herald they’re announcing their debate rules.
I’ve been banging on them.
Let’s make it a real debate.
A debate where all seven Democrats get to cross-examine each other.
Where we get to answer questions, like it or not.
Politicians never answer questions they don’t like.
So we hook ourselves up to electrodes.
Crossfire meets Clockwork Orange.
I don’t understand the wooden eggs.
Politics and Eggs, that’s the name of the forum.
– You ever tried signing a wooden egg? – Granite State tradition.
– Like the actual voting.
Your speech? – What about wooden slices of toast? – You get traction with your pen.
– You’re doing a modified stump.
We beefed up the foreign policy because of these Pakistani nuclear sales.
– Sound bite’s in bold.
– Fine.
Then you can sign wooden nuclear reactors.
I think I should open with the VP seal joke.
Donna? It’s a hilarious joke that’s been hilarious 147 times, sir.
– I’ve never done this forum.
– These people were at other forums.
Next week they’ll be at the forum on forums.
They’re almost done with your introduction, sir.
I’m gonna open with the VP seal joke.
Pound the foreign policy, you can tell knock-knock jokes.
Our guest at this morning’s Politics and Eggs, Vice President Bob Russell.
Thank you, gentlemen.
In case the kitchen staff is wondering I like my wooden eggs sawed in half and scrambled.
– It is a great pleasure.
– They announced rules for the debate.
Don’t tell me they’re doing this Santos nonsense.
– Thumb wrestling if you misuse a stat.
– No, pretty thumb-free.
the vice president, and I will tell you what I like best about that seal.
If you close your left eye and squint really hard and tilt your head just so it reads a lot like “president of the United States.
” Trade launch codes for a seltzer bottle.
– Vaudeville.
– This is important.
They’re putting the vice president on-stage with six also-rans.
– Believe me, this debate isn’t important.
– See, that’s the thing.
Every year health-care reform has been on the national agenda.
Whether we’ve passed it or not private insurers have kept their premium increases down.
So, yeah, it ought to be part of the debate.
– Thanks.
– Thank you.
Any news on this Pakistani nuclear sale to Nigeria? – Pakistan’s trying to backpedal.
– We ought to put out some statement.
No one’s asking, but sure.
We need to lead toward a world that’s free, prosperous and also nuclear-free.
– That’s good.
– Second set starts at 9.
I have some bad news.
– How bad? – Bad.
The Herald decided to use old debate rules.
Russell and Hoynes made a huge media buy out of Boston.
Close to 1800 gross ratings points each.
– Eighteen hundred points? – It’s an ad war.
An ad apocalypse.
I don’t know where they’re getting the money – but we don’t have it.
– We ought to ban ads altogether.
Screw the First Amendment.
Well, constitutionality aside, New Hampshire votes in five days.
The airwaves are gonna be Russell, Hoynes and reruns of I Love Lucy.
We need to change the dynamic, or we’re finished.
– We need a silver bullet.
– A silver bullet? An ad that’ll vault us out of the second tier, turn this campaign on its head.
– Go deeper into debt.
– No.
But we can scrape together enough to buy one minute of prime time.
One minute against 1800 points? One minute that is so gutsy so edgy, so different that it’ll be replayed for free on every newscast.
– What’s the ad? – Working on it.
You go on and buy that airtime.
Matt Santos.
– I’m running for president.
– Hi.
Anything on the debate rules? No interaction, no cross-examination.
It’s everything we didn’t want.
– But – Debate’s gonna be a wash.
No one’s gonna watch.
It’s Everyone’s calling it The Return of the Seven Dwarves.
– Two dwarves.
– Seven.
The one with the big nose.
– Gave me nightmares.
– Only Hoynes and Russell.
They limited it to candidates polling 20 percent.
The Herald says they’re the only ones that could win.
You guys are already working on that silver bullet, huh? If only frontrunners can debate why not bar the rest of us from the ballot altogether? If New Hampshire has suddenly become the Soviet Republic – go all the way.
– We’re gonna get in this.
They can’t shut two-thirds of the field out of a debate.
Oh, come on.
Don’t even call it a debate.
What do voters learn from followed by 60 seconds of blather? Timing, I suppose.
Look, there’s a serious legal argument to be made here.
This could be seen as an illegal contribution to both Hoynes and Russell.
I know the case law.
We get a team of election lawyers, we storm the district court.
I don’t wanna sue my way into this.
Shame the Herald, kick up a huge cloud of dust.
– Maybe the court stops the debate.
– I don’t wanna stop it, I wanna get in it.
The publisher won’t meet with us.
I couldn’t get past the copy desk.
Do you think the vice president really wants to go – mano a mano with John Hoynes? – No.
Why elevate the number-two mano in a crowded field? Maybe Russell will meet the publisher with us.
Demand a full and fair debate.
Get Will Bailey on the phone.
And call that postproduction shop in Nashua.
We need them open late.
We’re gonna make a TV ad.
I got a letter from an 8-year-old girl in Portsmouth who said, and I quote: “You are the greatest vice president of my time.
” Now, I’m not making this up.
Thanks for your time, folks.
– Have a good day.
– Thank you.
A two-man debate? I told you the Herald was for Hoynes.
They’ll be denouncing me for not giving him flier miles on Air Force Two.
– Josh Lyman just called.
– He can have your job.
Today, I think he’d take it.
As long as he fakes my signature on 300 wooden eggs.
Santos wants you to go to the Herald, say if all candidates aren’t invited you’ll stay home and scramble those eggs alone.
I can’t look like I’m ducking Hoynes.
Stand with Santos, Hoynes looks like he’s ducking the field.
What about his debate rules? We want the seven dwarves to be able to take direct shots at me? You realize you’re one of them.
– There are seven candidates.
– There must have been a head dwarf.
That’d be Snow White.
Not what we’re going for.
Forget Santos’ rules.
He’ll be grateful just to get on that stage.
The more dwarves we have up there the smaller John Hoynes is gonna look.
Will and I choreographed this whole meeting.
– Okay.
– Let Russell do the talking.
It should come from him.
– Fine.
– You can bob your head appreciatively.
I’ve been thinking about debate prep.
You were right.
We should bring in someone to help.
– I’ll make some calls.
– I’ve called already.
– Who? – Someone I know from the Hill.
For performance stuff.
Eye-clicking, things like that.
– Eye-clicking? – Yeah, things like that.
– Mr.
– Congressman.
Welcome to the Herald.
– Mr.
Vice President.
– Matt.
You’ve come a long way since House Administration.
The vice president and I served on the House Administration Committee.
Siberia of committees.
Non-binding resolutions to limit non-binding resolutions.
– That one was binding.
– Must have been some time ago.
– Yeah, I think it was back in – Two years ago, actually.
Well, I’ll be frank.
We’re five days away from the primary, two away from the debate.
No offense, you’re not gonna be the nominee.
How does it serve the voters to clutter up the stage? I’m sure Fidel Castro would agree.
Mackey, you’re trying to do the right thing, but it’s downright undemocratic.
My lawyers tell me that it could be an illegal contribution to the campaigns.
Without the full field, I don’t think I can participate.
The people want another debate, Mr.
Vice President.
I agree.
I was thinking of having my own.
Invite the full field.
– Who needs the Dover Herald? – All seven Democrats.
Right as rain, Mackey.
We should also take a minute to discuss format.
These can be better, not just bigger.
We saw what happened in the New Jersey debates.
Are we talking about the rules you proposed? Don’t we want this to be truly democratic, with real back-and-forth? Each candidate has to answer the questions not just another seven-stump-speech collision.
Well, I’m all for mixing it up, but if we proposed a debate like that – no one would agree to it.
– What do you say, Mr.
Vice President? A real debate, with all of the candidates truly engaging on the issues.
– Great.
– Terrific.
I have to talk to my editorial board, but I will take it to John Hoynes.
– Matt.
– Mr.
Vice President.
Thank you very much, Mr.
Who do you think wanted to limit non-binding resolutions? That did go a bit off plan.
I won’t be a punching bag for Hoynes and Santos and every welterweight who wants a quick tabloid hit.
– I’ll call Mackey and revisit the format.
– I threatened legal action.
I’ll say if they’re using Santos’ format, we won’t debate.
You tell him we’ll pay for the debate ourselves.
Me and Hoynes, Herald rules.
And no one can say it’s an illegal contribution, anyway.
Now, I didn’t come here to be a guest lecturer in Matt Santos’ etiquette class.
Okay, so we’re back to a two-man debate.
You did push the rules business a little hard.
I don’t know how anyone’s helped by us spewing out poll-tested pablum.
We’re not trying to help anyone, we’re trying to help you.
Spoken like a true Athenian.
So I guess we cancel the debate prep, huh? No.
Move ahead with it.
– For a debate we’re not even in.
– We have to get in.
– I got two lawyers working on a brief.
– You’re on this illegal contribution jag? Even if Russell paid, he’s still using the Herald’s name getting a mountain of free media.
How is that not illegal? I am not taking this to court, Josh.
We could try the Bob Russell thing.
Get a bad haircut and break ties in the Senate? – Hold our own debate.
– Me and my mirror.
We rent the hall across from the main debate.
You personally invite all the other candidates.
We’d stir up the good-government groups, editorial writers, local activists.
Because the Dover Herald doesn’t decide who’s a viable candidate – for the highest office.
– Frank Capra, eat your heart out.
– Can we use my debate rules? – You can use whatever rules you want.
Just get ready to debate.
We’re gonna run this in about 600 points.
Very effective with swing-twos in the mall test.
I’m Bob Russell, and I approve this ad.
In the United States Senate John Hoynes had an 84 percent NRA voting record.
Now he claims he’ll crack down on handguns.
As vice president, Hoynes praised Pakistan’s defense minister as a bold thinker.
So bold he may now be selling nuclear secrets to Nigeria.
You can’t take America’s side by taking both sides.
John Hoynes.
Whose side is he on? You sure we should run this? Wanna see his ad on your Colorado mining connections again? Hello? Matt Santos, for the veep.
He’s tied up.
I don’t get why our ads are negative.
I get it, but we’re the frontrunner.
Do they have to be that negative? We need to work up some q & a for the debate.
Wanna grab dinner later? You’re? Are you asking me to dinner? – We’ve had dinner four nights in a row.
– You never asked.
We just went.
Who else am I gonna have dinner with? Everyone else is 14 and irons their jeans.
– Fine.
– Great.
I need one-pagers on domestic policy and NSC guidance on Pakistan.
So you wanna grab dinner later? Sure.
Just set it up like a real debate.
Seven podiums, a table for the moderator.
When we get to headquarters, we’ll draft a statement.
– We’ll miss debate prep.
– Santos is gonna work – with a guy I’m bringing in.
– Smart of you to widen the team.
What we’re gonna do is start a massive public-relations crusade.
– Tonight? – Do you have that list – of opinion makers? – Oh, yeah.
We’re gonna call every political reporter in this state every party leader, every PTA recording secretary.
Tell them we’re holding our own debate.
The Herald’s debate is a sham.
You really believe anyone’s gonna cover our debate? Ours is a Trojan debate.
Won’t happen.
We’re gonna turn public opinion so they let us in the main debate.
– That’ll work? – If I wanted your opinion I would stick you in a focus group in southern Missouri.
– The ad.
– I don’t understand that either.
Hey, we’re broke, okay? We can’t afford a huge, glitzy ad buy so we run something feisty, funny, out of the box.
Turns our one minute of prime time into a national sensation.
Santos on skates, wearing a goalie outfit, pledging to defend America.
– Closer to the box than that.
– Well, what’s the message? How about our exclusion from the debates? Let’s try that.
What do we do? Film chicken coops and say they’re too chicken to debate us? I want two volunteers.
I want them in giant chicken suits.
In my office first thing in the morning.
– Chicken suits.
– He’s gonna like this? He’s gonna like what keeps him in the race.
But let’s not, you know, tell him.
Play around with the poultry theme.
– Hi.
– Little cold for ice cream, isn’t it? I mean, you could have bought just cream.
I embrace the cold.
– Okay.
– I luxuriate in the cold.
– Can I ask you? – I fight cold with more cold.
– What are you doing here? – I could ask the same but in your case, it’s more of an existential question.
When I want dark, depressing thoughts about alienation, I watch cable news.
That’s funny.
– You’re funny.
– Know what’s funny? You didn’t call me before you gave that speech at the Shorenstein Center.
I run the Women’s Majority Fund.
I make hundreds of speeches.
Trashing the entire Democratic field? Saying we’re gonna lose before we even have a nominee? – I was throwing down a gauntlet.
– Where I’m from, it’s littering.
The field’s pathetic.
Not one can take the Republicans.
I called them the seven dwarves for a reason.
I’m not gonna get into an argument about whether size matters.
I’m here in the trenches, running a one-man show and I’m sick of Democrats eating their young.
Wash them down with a little Rocky Road, it’s not so bad.
– You haven’t told me what you’re doing.
– Miss Gardner, your room is ready.
The simple answer is prepping Santos for the debate you haven’t gotten him.
The existential answer? It’s tricky stuff, Joshua.
I want you at every Hoynes and Russell event for 36 hours.
Obviously, Bob goes to the Russell events and John the Hoynes.
You know, Bob, John.
We’re making a serious point here.
We’re trying to turn public opinion, so no roughhousing no tearing down signs, no excessive flapping of the wings.
Don’t lie about what you’re doing there.
Don’t heckle.
If you get the chance, you ask humbly and respectfully: “Are you too chicken to debate the full field?” On a personal note, thanks for.
You know.
Let’s go out and get them, guys.
No one’s accepted our debate.
The Monitor and the Post-Dispatch are editorializing against the Herald debate.
Two lousy editorials? That’s it? We’ve been calling everyone.
The nationals won’t bite.
I stopped by our debate site, looks great.
Tell our Potemkin advance team great work.
The second they post those editorials, I need pull quotes for the ad.
Why aren’t we putting policy in the ad? – We got great policy.
– We’re trying to get media.
Great policy doesn’t give goose bumps to bored, 55-year-old segment producers.
– As opposed to? – Chickens.
– It’s a complicated business.
– You have no idea.
You’re not gonna believe who’s on the phone.
I feel terrible making you do this when I’m not even in the debate.
You’re not in the Olympics either, doesn’t mean you don’t do some sit-ups.
You’ve coached 50 women congressional candidates to debate wins – so there must be some secret.
– There is.
Keep an extra pair of pantyhose in your purse.
After bombing the way I did in Iowa, I’m not gonna rule that out.
Congressman, I looked at the tapes.
You’re great.
You’re quotable cute enough to be a presidential pinup.
Wait until you see my runway work.
You don’t have the presidential voice.
– The presidential voice? – You don’t have it.
And it’s a time of global peril and you’re sharing the stage with two vice presidents.
Or not.
What do you think of the nationalist gains in the Russian parliamentary elections? It ain’t the Litchfield City Council, but Russia makes its own choices.
And in a democracy The lamer half of Jay Leno’s monologue.
You’re not a House backbencher trying to get on CNN.
Sobriety, understatement.
Let the words carry the authority.
– A presidential voice.
– Think filling out a suit – instead of wearing orange – Pantyhose.
I was gonna say neckties, but what the hell.
How’s the eye-clicking? We’re still on hosiery.
– I need the congressman for a minute.
– Yeah.
Thanks, Amy.
How’s the ad? We’ll have something by prime time tomorrow night.
Look, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Amy.
I just got a call from Hoynes’ campaign manager.
– Hoynes wants to meet.
– He wants us in the debate? I can’t imagine why, but we’re getting some good editorials.
Maybe making more hay than I thought.
– Want me to come? – After your soliloquy at the Herald – I should take the solo this time.
– Okay.
You got a few minutes for debate prep? I know how you feel about me You should get back in there.
Know what I’m finding, being on the trail? – What’s that? – I never stop talking.
No, really, I’m surprised I don’t babble like an idiot in the shower.
Fifteen stops a day.
Eight speeches.
Five interviews.
I could do a good 45 seconds on your overcoat.
– Okay, let’s not.
– It’s a stitch too little, a season too late.
Josh, you can do better.
America can do better.
– You wanted to talk about the debate? – I don’t.
– Why’d you return the call? – I called you, not the congressman.
You think I wanna tell him no? You know how this works.
They only put me on if I say yes.
You do benefit from a two-man debate but there are editorials denouncing the Herald’s decision.
Public opinion’s turning.
You’re gonna see it at your events.
Well, first of all, Russell’s picking up the tab.
It’s his decision.
And second, the way Russell’s hammering me in these ads I gotta get him up there, one-on-one.
So why did you wanna see me? I wanna talk about Matt Santos’ statement on Pakistan.
You’re the only one.
“Free and nuclear-free”? I used that exact phrase myself at the Merrimack Chamber.
We’re working from the same material, let’s coordinate.
We don’t wanna get caught up in a plagiarism charge.
– What? – Amy’s memos.
– Amy? – Amy Gardner.
Her memos on the presidential voice? That’s where I got the line.
I assume that’s where you got it.
Now, if we’re both gonna use them, let’s divvy them up.
– She gave you the memos? – “Security as the new women’s issue.
” – Pretty smart stuff.
– Sir, we’re ready for you.
Time’s up, Josh.
Gotta keep talking.
When Russell was in Congress Common Cause called him big mining’s best friend.
Congress Watch said there isn’t a mining loophole or giveaway he won’t support.
That’s the new Hoynes spot? – Hoynes approved it, into the camera.
– I fought for that in Congress.
If candidates had to look into the camera and approve every ad it would somehow raise the tone of these campaigns.
It’s not working very well.
Candidates just approve at the top so by the time they twist the knife, you forget.
Bob Russell.
Good for the Colorado mining industry.
But is he good for New Hampshire? I’m going back to the hotel for my debate prep.
One advantage of being vice president aside from the motorcades and the hoopla is the honor of standing behind the vice-presidential seal.
Tell you what I like about the vice-presidential seal.
If you close your left eye and you squint really hard and you tilt your head.
Here’s what’s troubling me about our answer on Pakistan.
We’re exploiting unverified claims denied by the Pakistani and Nigerian cabinets? I was gonna say our I hate it when clandestine proliferation networks won’t stay on the clock.
– Mom, look.
– Oh, my.
the heart of who we are as a people.
But I am committed – to manufacturing in this country.
– You sure that was Advil you gave me? – That is a large chicken.
– That’s not the mascot.
– Aren’t they the Fighting Wombats? – Warthogs.
– Mr.
Vice President.
– We magged him.
He’s clean.
Excuse me, Mr.
Vice President.
Excuse me.
About the debate.
Why are you not willing to have full participation? – Are you chicken? – I’m going in.
May I ask, sir, why you’re not willing? Why are you not? – You’re from the Santos campaign.
– Yes.
Do you realize how pathetic this is? Do your parents know? Pakistan could be arming Nigeria, a potential Muslim coup and you’re pulling pranks.
If this is democracy, Santos belongs in a fraternity house, not a debate.
Now, go dip your beak in someone else’s feed.
Tell me you’re not gonna use that.
There are whole generations of Russians who were trained by the KGB.
When the wall fell, they didn’t all go open pizzerias.
– That’s not to say that – No, no, no.
Bad, bad, bad.
If I could pull a lever and drop you, I’d do it.
– What, my analysis isn’t right? – Your analysis is fine.
I don’t know how to explain.
It’s not a pop quiz and it’s not a talk show.
The leader of the free world has to speak in broad concepts, in value statements.
“I love America.
I will lead the world towards liberty.
” Oh, I don’t sound pompous enough.
You’re commenting on events, not shaping them.
I don’t shape them, and it’s not the way I think.
The prospect of first-strike capability’s gotta change the way you think.
Anything from Hoynes? Yeah.
I need five minutes with Amy.
Take 10.
I’m gonna call my wife.
Show Amy how little I shape events.
I’m trying to explain the presidential voice.
The difference between leading the marketplace and catering to it.
The difference between, I don’t know, John Lennon and John Davidson.
Sergeant Pepper and the fifth Herman’s Hermits album.
– You’re working for Hoynes.
– I’m not.
You’re giving one-liners to two campaigns.
It was a memo.
I gave it to all seven.
I suppose your love is a free gift to the Bolshevik brothers too.
Did you see the gender gap in the last election? Probably not, because there wasn’t one.
Yeah, and since chicks really dig plagiarism, this’ll help.
Security’s the new women’s issue.
It’s why we’re losing.
People are scared and Democrats sound like think-tank hair-twirlers.
– So you pick a candidate and help him.
– And if that candidate doesn’t win? – Want a warranty? – I want every candidate – to be able to take the Republicans.
– You don’t give a damn.
– You want – The whole party to be stronger.
We don’t open our inner circle to earth mothers.
Who’s we? You didn’t even know I was coming.
No, but I know you’re leaving.
And don’t knock Herman’s Hermits.
It’s hard enough getting on the charts.
What happened in here? Amy practically knocked me over in the lobby.
– She’s going back to Washington.
– You fired her? She’s been advising the whole field.
Hoynes used the same line on Pakistan.
She’s brilliant.
I can understand how you’d want her.
She’s my ex, so you didn’t tell me.
– If you had trusted me for two seconds – I knew she was advising everyone.
That’s why I didn’t tell you.
You think I care about your dating life? Okay.
Let’s get back to Politics 101.
The object is to beat the other guys.
We are all getting beaten on security.
It’s like these debate rules.
If all of us were better, maybe one of us would finally break through.
And did I just see chickens on CNN up in my hotel room? This may not be the best time, but we have to get over to the court.
– It closes in an hour.
– We are not going to any cou Chickens? I had the lawyers finish the brief.
They’re waiting.
– Tell them to find an ambulance to chase! – In case you didn’t notice, we’re in one! We’re hosting a debate that nobody is coming to with two lousy editorials taking our side? Why do you keep making me have this argument? Because it’s not the way I wanna do things.
Being in a real debate, like an actual candidate? Amy’s telling me to be more presidential, you want me to act like a Mob attorney! Here’s what Amy won’t tell you about the voice: You have to become president to use it.
He wouldn’t let me go to the court.
I had the brief.
We were ready to go.
If you end up canceling your alternate debate because of lack of interest the field shrank to six dwarves and a porcelain donkey.
– Collectible.
– You should have told him a case – kicks up a media storm.
– He has the PR instincts of Idi Amin.
Now we’re shut out of a debate I fired my ex-girlfriend from a job she never had Santos practically had me batter-dipped and seasoned when he saw Donna fighting a giant chicken on CNN.
– Talk about dignifying a weak opponent.
– Yeah.
You don’t engage a chicken.
Didn’t you teach that girl not to engage a chicken? Though, I swear, watching the footage it looks like she’s gonna pluck the feathers right off.
– It’s the best press we’ve had all week.
– Gotta go.
– Postproduction guys worked all night.
– Yeah.
Did you get a cell number for Amy? Actually, she called and left it for the congressman but made me promise not to give it to you.
– Hey.
– Well, let’s see the ad.
Health-care costs are spiraling.
That’s something we should debate.
Then why has Bob Russell refused to take part in a real debate? The people of New Hampshire deserve to hear us speak about the issues.
I’m looking forward to the debates.
Why won’t John Hoynes debate all his opponents? The Concord Monitor calls tomorrow’s debate “an illegal contribution to the Russell and Hoynes campaigns.
” Post-Dispatch says “a subversion of democracy.
” Or maybe they’re just chicken.
It’s an attack ad.
They shut us out of the debate.
We should crawl and thank them? You expect me to look into a camera and say I approved that.
We were gonna put that at the top.
Thank you all for all of your hard work.
We’re not running it.
Congressman, this is your argument.
– People deserve a full and fair debate.
– It wasn’t what I had in mind.
What did you have in mind? – I don’t know.
– Oh, great.
I’ll call the editing bay.
We need to overhaul the spot.
We have no clue, but get it ready for broadcast.
– It’s sketch comedy.
– It’s fun.
It’s feisty.
– It’ll get us on the news.
– It’s cheap.
What did you expect? I’m sorry, but nobody else cares about your Marquess of Queensbury Rules.
I didn’t want this to be some crank campaign, swinging wildly at Eden.
Well, guess what.
That’s what we are.
I like your debate rules, congressman.
Honestly, I do.
And I admire your campaign ethics.
But we’re game players, not rule makers.
And if we walk away from our last chance to make any kind of splash and this is our last chance the only rules we’re gonna need are for long, lingering games of shuffleboard.
We got a good ad.
We got a minute of prime time on one of the top stations in the state.
You don’t wanna run it, it’s up to you.
– Congressman, do you need some time? – No, it’s fine.
Maybe we could run a bit of your stump speech.
Get the footage from C-SPAN.
In less than one hour? Yeah, probably not.
Say, did you happen to catch the New Jersey Senate debate last week? No, sir.
Someone asked about the situation in Freedonia and Barber said that he was studying it.
Freedonia’s fake.
It’s from a Marx Brothers movie.
And there was no follow-up, no cross-examination.
The bigger story in the papers the next day was how he slammed his opponent for being too liberal.
You get into this thinking to yourself that you’re gonna play by your own rules and then, bit by bit, you chip away at them until you can’t even name the game.
You were a history major over at UT, weren’t you? – Yes.
– You think there’s such a thing as a presidential voice? Seemed to me that the president makes the voice, not the other way around.
We’re going to WMUR.
To drop off the ad? – I’m gonna do it live, to camera.
– Do what live to camera? Get a room and a laptop.
We’ll figure it out when we get there.
– Call the director.
We need – Room and a laptop.
Right, and call Call anyone else you think you should call.
– Congressman.
This way.
– Hi.
Hey, this is exciting stuff.
– We love live TV around here.
– Yeah, me too.
I love it.
Talking about Pakistan? Hard for a House member to do much.
– I don’t wanna spoil the surprise.
– Forgive the staff.
They’re jaded.
They hardly look up when the first-tier candidates come through.
Fifteen seconds to live.
Stand by to roll VTR.
Stand by, VTR audio.
– Coming live in six, five – And roll VTR.
four, three, two.
Good evening.
I’m running for president.
And if you don’t know who I am, I wouldn’t be surprised.
I’ve been shut out of tomorrow’s debate for suggesting it actually be a debate and this is the only ad I can afford.
I got in this to improve a broken school system fix entitlements, because they’re going bankrupt to expand health coverage.
It’ll save money if fewer people show up in emergency rooms.
What I’ve found is that presidential campaigns aren’t about these things.
They’re about clawing your opponents so long as you don’t get tagged for it.
So how about this: I will never say anything about my opponents, or anything about anything without saying it myself, right into the camera.
You might not get to hear much of me, but when you do you’ll know I stand by it.
I’m Matt Santos, and you better believe I approved this ad.
The hard part’s clearing your throat, really.
Great job.
Yes, sir, we’re still taking donations.
Well, I honestly don’t know if we could run the ad again.
It wasn’t really I’m sorry.
Could you hold, please? Hello, Santos for Federal limit’s $2000.
Could you please hold for a second.
– Hoynes isn’t commenting on your ad.
– I’m not commenting on his failure to so tag, he’s it.
Are you planning to go on TV more? I’m trying to get my own game show, Let’s Make a Country.
I’ll keep you posted.
– I don’t understand the strategy.
– I wouldn’t call it a strategy, per se.
– Obviously, we’ve talked about it.
– Before you wrote the ad.
– Matt Santos wrote the ad.
– Come on, Josh.
– We’re on deep background here.
– He wrote it.
– Off the record, then.
– Put me in Witness Protection.
The guy wrote his own ad.
I will never say anything about my opponents, or anything about anything without saying it myself, right into the camera.
I’m Matt Santos, and you better believe I approved this ad.
It’s hard to say whether Congressman Santos ‘ minute of prime time will turn his campaign around but many political observers agree that the unusual ad run on rival station WMUR, raises the question: If candidates mean what they say, why don’t they simply say it themselves? Look, Amy, it’s really hard out there.
We got people lobbing grenades at us from all sides, even our friends.
They need to know if you can take it.
Even your friends.
For its part, the Russell campaign says that it stands by all its ads which is why Bob Russell appears on-screen attesting to its veracity.
– I should be calling columnists.
– Don’t.
– No, we should be doing spinoff events.
– Don’t.
– We should be sending out copies of – Don’t.
This spins itself.
Send copies, they’re gonna stop running it.
– So, what do I do? – Sit here.
voters don’t especially like, and defending a campaign-reform law that hasn’t done much to clean up campaigns.
For its part What Congressman Santos did tonight, intentionally or not, was put both – What happens now? – Very little.
defending a campaign-reform law that hasn’t cleaned up campaigns.
Is it cynical that candidates excluded from the main debate have now accepted your offer? I don’t call it cynical.
Yesterday, this looked like a vanity exercise.
I might not have accepted it myself.
MSNBC’s announced they’re running the debates back-to-back.
And I’d watch them, but I’m busy that night.
A disaster.
We’re not getting coverage of Politics and Eggs – of “get tough on Pakistan” – Press loves an underdog.
– How many points behind this ad? – None.
It’s all free media.
Can we ramp up our media buy? Pull the negatives, replace them with positives.
That sounds like a retreat.
– Press will smell blood.
– It’s a multi-candidate field.
If the press loves him, and we’re rolling in the mud We’re leading in the polls.
How did we end up in a crouch? I’m not changing my ads because of a stunt.
– You saw the debate editorials.
– Thank God we kept him out.
He’d have shown up in a powdered wig, quoting from the Federalist Papers.
I disagree.
I don’t agree, Mr.
Vice President.
Maybe it is a stunt, but if it is, we invited it.
By trying to ride above the herd, treating everybody else as if they were a herd.
You have to go to Santos’ debate.
Then Hoynes would have to go.
Then we’re letting the chips fall on you, on your ideas.
Not on some Machiavellian maneuver.
And what’s the alternative? Alienating Pakistan, which cuts off our only decent source of intelligence in that region.
I actually agree with John Hoynes on this one.
We have to keep that part of the world free, prosperous and also nuclear-free.
– Chest-beating’s not gonna do it.
– Thanks.
– That’s great.
– Thanks, guys.
– Where have you been? – I got tied up.
I’m fine if we wanna bring Amy back.
Any news? Hoynes turned us down for the debate again.
He must have been scared off by what he saw on TV.
At this point, even raw opportunism would suggest that Bob Russell for the congressman.
Vice President.
And after Vice President Russell decided to skip today’s Herald debate and join Congressman Santos, the Hoynes campaign had no choice but to do so as well.
One thing’s for sure: the debate you’re about to see isn’t the one John Hoynes and Bob Russell wanted just two days We had a tougher line on means testing.
You’re gonna wanna save that for the cross-examination.
are sure to make this seven-way debate a must-see.
Have you ever actually closed one eye, tilted your head and looked at the seal? I hate to admit it, but yes.
– Really just a blurry-looking seal, isn’t it? – I’m thinking about closing both eyes.
What was it you said about frontrunners? – Everything to lose, nothing to win? – And tip the dealer.
– Wanna grab dinner? – Who else am I gonna have dinner with? the Hoynes campaign had to do so as well.
One, two, three.
Thank you for being part of this very special New Hampshire Democratic primary debate.
I don’t know if I’ve served you very well over the past few days.
What are you talking about? The ad was your idea.
So was this debate.
I never thought we’d be here.
It’s a miracle I ordered podiums.
Truth is, I can’t think of one thing I’ve done to make this your campaign and not some cookie-cutter Beltway hack-a-thon.
Well, I can think of one.
– You put me in it.
– Gentlemen, if you’ll take your places.
Can I buy you an ice-cream cone when this is over? My flight’s in an hour.
You’re not gonna stay and watch? Could never stand to see candidates flub my lines, anyway.
Please take your seats.
Thank you for joining us today for the final debate of the New Hampshire Democratic primary.
For the next 90 minutes, our panel will ask questions of the candidates and all candidates will answer, and all candidates must answer before the debate is to proceed.
Then each candidate will be given the opportunity to cross-examine her or his opponent.

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