West Wing
Message Of The Week

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Adiós, Leon. We Hardly Knew Ye.

Sheila, talking on a headset mic, emerges from the women's room at Vinick HQ. I guess everybody on that campaign "multitasks." She's on the phone with Vinick, giving him hell for "taking a shot" at Santos. Vinick doesn't think he took a shot at Santos, but she tells him that however he sees it, he's guaranteed that the story will be in the news for another cycle. Vinick and entourage (including Bruno, Dan, and Leon) are walking down the aisle of his campaign jet. Bruno tells Vinick that Santos will have some good days, and that Vinick can't let it get to him.

Vinick hands the phone to Bruno and asks him to put Sheila on speakerphone. Bruno hands the phone off to Leon, who pushes the one button necessary to put Sheila on speaker. She tells them that they are sticking with the message of the week, which is "Homeland Security." She points out that Vinick just got the endorsement of the F.O.P., that he'll get the Philadelphia police union's endorsement the next day, and that they might get the Houston police union's endorsement as well. Dan thinks that it must drive Santos crazy, as the former mayor of Houston, that he can't even get the endorsement of his own city's police union. Leon wonders if they ever endorse a Democrat. Well, I don't know about the Houston police union, but the F.O.P. and some other national and big-city police unions have pretty much split their endorsements evenly between parties over the last dozen years. Bruno thinks they already have a good week planned out, but Vinick wants to do something to "shake things up now." Vinick tells them, "Santos is not the standard-issue Democratic candidate." Dan thinks he's a lot weaker than the standard-issue Democratic candidate, but Vinick points out that Santos is smarter and tougher than Dan is giving him credit for. Vinick wants to bring the fight straight to Santos. Leon points out that going negative first is a sign of weakness, but Vinick thinks they can do it without ever even mentioning Santos's name. And then they have a deadly dull discussion about how to shock Santos. Really, if I wrote it up, it would go on for about a page. Just be glad I spared you. In the end, Vinick decides to make some policy proposals on "Latino issues." He tells Sheila that they're changing the message of the week, including canceling his appearance at the VFW in Philadelphia. Sheila is pretty angry about this, but Vinick won't be swayed. He wants them to regroup at HQ that night to plan some proposals that will knock Santos off his game. I don't care how much you think you need to retool your message: canceling an appearance at the VFW with one day's notice is going to come off as a deliberate insult. In the real world, that would be the biggest campaign story for at least a few days.

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West Wing

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