The only follow-up to Toby's firing is a resounding "no comment" from the White House -- specifically from Will, who is trying to learn the ropes as Communications Director -- and a brief shot of Toby on the news on someone's television. Will's initially eaten alive by the press, but gets more comfortable as he holds more briefings. By the end of the day, someone thanks him with a rubber ball all his own, wrapped up in a red ribbon. The real focus of the hour is everyone's favorite hot-button issue -- abortion. An independent right-wing group runs an ad bashing Santos for his stance on abortion by using a snippet of an old interview out of context. Although it did not come from his own camp, Vinick wants it pulled so that he doesn't appear to have started a negative campaign. His staff doesn't necessarily agree with that choice, so both sides begin to prepare their ads bashing the other candidate. Team Santos finds a woman to act as spokesperson to clarify his stance on abortion who turns out to be...none other than Donna, which causes Josh to flip out. Louise (brilliantly) ends up putting Josh and Donna alone together in the same room to work out their differences so that Donna can work on the campaign, which results in a lot of yelling at one another and Josh acting supremely immature. Louise also replaces Josh in the latest debate negotiation meeting with Bruno, and in a risky play blows the talks up completely so that it does not look like Santos is begging for the chance to debate. The fallout from the TV spot causes both Santos and Vinick to attend The Al Smith Dinner in order to each clarify their stances on the abortion issue. While waiting to be introduced at the event, they wind up alone together in the kitchen and begin to snipe at each other. The sniping turns into a challenge for a single debate to be held next Sunday in a Live Television Event.
We start out with Team Santos in Dearborn, Michigan. Everyone is already in a tizzy, Louise trying to convince Santos that very few voters actually read "that ink-stained rag," The New York Times. Santos (fairly understandably) isn't buying it. He points out that every columnist and media person reads it, which in itself is bad enough. It's now sixty-three days until Election Day. Josh is trying to convince them that whatever ran is much worse for Vinick, since he's the one who's been dragging his feet on the debate negotiations. The crew is heading through a kitchen, which is quite a theme for this week's episode. Josh: "I call it a classic case of a frontrunner trying to sit on a lead." Hang on, isn't that what anyone leading a race is trying to do? Ah, Santos is as confused as I am, and wryly points out that he can see why Vinick is doing that, since he's now been leading for two months. Josh exposits for us that the Times slammed the candidates for not yet having a debate. Santos adds, "It's starting to look like I'm desperate to debate him."
The mood is much different at Vinick's headquarters. He and Sheila exit a car, joking all the way about the autographing of inappropriate body parts. Really? I mean, I'm like any girl and would stick my chest out in front of Santos, but do you really want to feel Sharpie on flesh when that Sharpie is in Vinick's hand? Sheila basically tells him to watch it: "You're the next President of the United States. You have a standard to uphold." It's all light-hearted, but that's the one thing Vinick won't joke about, just like any good sports fan won't say that his team has the game won already. Bruno only eggs her on, calling Vinick a rock star -- "David Cassidy meets David Rockefeller." Now THERE'S a love child. Sheila once again calls Vinick the President, and he tells her again to stop it.
Back with Team Tense, who are still walking -- seriously, how far are they going? It turns out that an aide told the Times that Santos was a great debater, so that increases expectations on his side while lowering them for Vinick. Aha, these politicians! Turns out they are crafty. Josh points out the obvious: "Well, he doesn't need the debates; we do. There's no way to hide that." The jury is still out for me as to whether Josh is doing the right thing in being so blunt, or if maybe he should try to be more positive or at least constructive, but...well, we'll see. Santos just stops and turns: "What good are debates if I have to demolish him just to win?" Josh says that he is meeting with Bruno the next day. Santos replies only, "Break the logjam. And lower expectations." Josh starts sounding a tad desperate that those orders conflict, but as the doors slide shut, Santos just tells him, "Get it done."