Vinick HQ. Sullivan walks up to Sheila and Bruno and asks whether Hodder has arrived. Sheila tells him he hasn't, and then suggests that Sullivan really doesn't need to be there. Sullivan drops the bombshell that Hodder asked him to attend the meeting. And then he points out that Hodder and his retinue are walking through the door. Sheila looks at them and asks, "What's she doing here?" The "she" in question is someone who looks a bit like a young Arianna Huffington. Tall, strong jaw, reddish blonde hair in a very D.C. cut. (I know some forum posters have equated this character with Ann Coulter, but I didn't see her eat a single baby in this episode, so I don't quite see the comparison.) Sheila shakes hands with everyone and introduces Bruno to the woman, whose name is Jane Braun. Jane reaches to shake Bruno's hand, and he turns away and mutters, "Good to meet you." But he does shake hands with Hodder. Sheila explains that Vinick is on a call and will be available soon. Jane starts to ask after the Senator's health, and Sheila quickly shuts her down.
There's a bit more small talk about the campaign's schedule, and then Hodder asks what their message will be on their upcoming trip to the south. Sheila tells him, "We're holding center." Jane asks if that's really the best move, and Bruno tells her that they need to win back the undecideds, who happen to be moderates. Jane acknowledges that there's a basis for reaching that conclusion, but disagrees, telling Bruno, "I'm not sure it's about changing minds anymore. It's kind of late for that." Bruno thinks they have enough time, and she seems doubtful. She thinks that what they can count on is getting out the vote, and to do that, they'll need to motivate the Republican base: "It's time to start talking about values, and family." Bruno is already rolling his eyes, and he asks her, "By which you mean what? Gay marriage?" She tells him that there's more to the values agenda than that (because there's also gay adoption, and abortion. And let's not forget gay marriage). Hodder thinks they should "play the gay-marriage card." The only thing that makes me sicker than assholes who actually believe I should have fewer rights than others are the people who don't believe it but who are willing to use the issue to score political points. Hodder just wants to force Santos to respond, since it will drive conservatives to Vinick. Sheila tells them, "The Senator doesn't think that marriage is a federal issue." Jane suggests that he rethink it. Jane tells them that they're in desperation mode, and that while they had "some maverick ideas" early in the race, it's "time to run a safe, sober campaign." And what can be more safe and sober than whipping up the mob over a nonexistent "threat" to the family? Jane thinks that a safe and sober campaign is one that appeals to the Republican base. Bruno points out that the policies they've taken in the campaign weren't adopted for political purposes: "They're Senator Vinick's positions." Jane thinks Vinick should pretend that he doesn't actually believe most of what he said during the campaign, and blame his earlier positions on bad advice from strategists. And exactly how does this help counter the idea that he's a doddering old man? Hodder tells Sheila to consider it, and she dismisses the idea. Hodder points out that there are other races to consider, and that if Vinick can't motivate Republicans to turn out, the party could lose the House and the Senate. And then Annie arrives to escort Hodder, Jane, and Sullivan into meet with Vinick. After they leave, Bruno asks, "You still think they're not trying to replace me?" Sheila: "No, they're definitely trying to replace you. With her, apparently."