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"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by Josh

Five days before the New Hampshire primary, a desperate Josh must find a way to get his trailing candidate, Congressman Santos, into the local newspaper's debate between the two front-runners, Vice President Russell and Hoynes, or face extinction, until they gamble on staging their own debate. When Santos brings in savvy Amy Gardner to prep him, Josh clashes with both his ex-girlfriend and his candidate over the listless campaign.



Matt Santos is meeting with voters on the streets of New Hampshire, trying to get his points across and hoping to be included in the last debate of the candidates before the Primary.  Vice President Russell and Will are talking before the VP goes in to give a speech.  Donna appears and tells Will there has been an announcement about the debate rules.  Josh comes to see Santos to tell him that John Hoynes and VP Russell made a huge ad buy and they only have money for one minute of airtime.  Ronna comes over and tells Josh the Congressman is being excluded from the debate:  it will only be Russell and Hoynes.

Act I[]

Josh and Santos are talking in the campaign office.  Santos is mad that he's being excluded.  He tells Josh to ask the Vice President to go to the newspaper sponsoring the debate with Santos asking for the rest of the candidates to be included.  Will and Donna talk to the Vice President about the idea, which is good for them, because the Vice President would not do well against only John Hoynes - the VP needs the other candidates.

Santos and Josh arrive for the meeting, and Josh tells Santos that he and Will have planned out the whole meeting.  Josh tells the Congressman to not say anything.  The Vice President impresses upon the editor of the Dover Herald that the entire field should be invited to debate, or else he might stay out, too, or hold his own debate.  Santos interjects that he would like to see a true debate, actual interaction between the candidates, which he gets the Vice President to agree to in the room.

Will and the Vice President talk about how the meeting went south and Will tells the VP that he will fix it.  Josh and the Congressman are in the office and Josh gets a call that the two-man debate is back on because Santos pushed the rules too hard.  They decide to hold a debate with the other candidates across the street from the Hoynes-Russell debate.

Donna and Will show the VP a new campaign ad, which is a negative ad pointed at Hoynes.  Will and Donna talk about getting the VP ready for the debate.  Josh is talking with Ned and Ronna about the alternative debate they are going to hold instead and getting it publicized.  He tells them to get working on the one-minute ad.  He walks into an inn and sees Amy Gardner  across the room.  The two talk and he asks her what she is doing there.  She tells him that she is there to prep Santos for the debate.

Act II[]

Josh is briefing two volunteers dressed in chicken costumes, telling them to shadow both Hoynes and Russell and try to get them to respond as to why they won't debate.  Ronna takes a call for Josh, which causes him to leave the room to find the Congressman.  In another room of the Inn, Amy is working with Santos to help him try and find his "presidential voice."  Josh comes in and tells the Congressman that the call was from John Hoynes's campaign manager:  they want to see him.  Santos asks if he should come, but Josh says that he will go alone, because he's not sure what it's about. 

Josh meets John Hoynes and they talk about the upcoming debate.  Hoynes questions Josh about a statement on Pakistan that Santos put out that contains the same language that Hoynes used.  The line came from a memo from Amy Gardner that she gave to both Santos and Hoynes, so they need to coordinate better if they are going to use the same material.

Santos is heading out for more debate prep, while Chicken Bob arrives at a Russell event.  He gets the opportunity to ask the VP why he won't debate the full field, but before Russell can respond, Donna pulls the chicken volunteer aside and berates him, all in front of the media, who get it all on tape. 

Back at the Inn, Josh returns to Santos and Amy, who are still working.  He takes Amy aside and asks her why she's feeding information to Hoynes.  She tells him she gave the memo to all the Democratic candidates.  Josh fires her and she leaves.  Santos returns and asks Josh what happened.  They argue about Amy, but Josh tells Santos he is going to have to trust him.

Act III[]

Josh is on the phone with C.J.  C. J. is telling him that unless they get the debate to go, Santos may be finished.  At the campaign HQ, Josh and the Congressman look at the ad that was put together.  Santos doesn't like it and says they aren't going to use it.  Santos goes outside and Josh follows him.  Santos is angry and Josh tries to tell him the ad is what he wanted, but Santos doesn't agree.  Josh goes back inside.  Ned comes out to see Santos to suggest they send some video of his stump speech as the ad.

Santos asks Ned if he had seen the New Jersey Senate debate the previous week.  Ned says no, and Santos tells him that one question was if the candidate knew about the situation in Freedonia.  The candidate said he was studying it.  But Freedonia is fake: it's from a Marx Brothers movie.  Santos tells Ned they are going to WMUR and that he is going to do the ad, live in their studios.  He walks inside and tells Josh the same thing and they leave for the television studio.  Josh calls out to Ronna as they are leaving to call everyone she can think of.

They arrive at WMUR and the News Director leads them to a small studio.  Santos delivers a one-minute impassioned speech about his campaign and does so in the "presidential voice."

Act IV[]

Back at the campaign headquarters, the phones are ringing off the hook with people donating money to the campaign.  Santos and Josh return to the Inn trailed by reporters.  Amy is watching news coverage of Santos's announcement and Josh comes in.  He tries to apologize to her and then decides that they should do something else.  Amy tells him not to, but to come and sit down, and she proceeds to tape him to the chair.

Santos is talking with the press, the story is gaining momentum, and at the Russell headquarters, Will and Donna are advising the VP on what to do.  The momentum has shifted to the Santos debate, and Hoynes and Russell have no choice but to join and accept Santos's rules.

As the debate is about to start, Josh tells the Congressman that he hasn't served him very well in the past few days, but Santos tells him that he's done well, he's gotten him this far and they will get better from here.  Amy walks up behind Josh and he asks her to stay, but she says her flight's in an hour.  Josh turns to watch her leave and then goes back to the wings to watch the debate.


Josh Lyman: The airwaves are going to be flooded with Russell, Hoynes and re-runs of I Love Lucy. We need to change the whole dynamic, or we're finished. We need a silver bullet. "A silver bullet." A TV ad that'll vault us out of the second tier-- turn this campaign on its head.
Matt Santos: You want us to go deeper into debt?
Josh Lyman: No, but we can scrape together enough to buy one minute of prime time on WMUR.
Matt Santos: One minute against 1,800 points?
Josh Lyman: One minute that is so gutsy, so edgy, so different, that it'll be replayed for free on every newscast in the country.
Matt Santos: What's the ad?
Josh Lyman: (very softly): I'm working on it.
Matt Santos: Go on and buy that air time.
Josh Lyman: You still haven't told me what you're doing in New Hampshire.
Amy Gardner: Simple answer is . . . I'm prepping Matt Santos for the debate you haven't gotten him into. The existential answer . . . is tricky stuff, Joshua.
Chicken Bob: May I ask about the debate:  why you're not willing to have full participation? Are you chicken?
Donna Moss: I'm going in.
Chicken Bob: May I ask, sir, why you're not willing...
Donna Moss: Why, you're... You're from the Santos campaign, aren't you?
Chicken Bob: Yes, ma'am.
Donna Moss: Do you realize how pathetic this is? Do your parents know you're doing this? Pakistan could be arming Nigeria, a potential Muslim coup, and you're pulling shaving-cream-and-balloon-style pranks. If this is his idea of democracy, Matt Santos belongs in a fraternity house not a debate. Now go dip your beak in someone else's feed. [She turns and realizes the press saw the whole thing and caught the interaction on video] Tell me you're not going to use that.
CJ Cregg: Didn't you teach that girl not to engage a chicken?
Matt Santos: "Good evening. I'm running for President and if you don't know know who I am, I wouldn't be surprised. I've been shut out of tomorrow night's debate for suggesting that it actually be a debate and this is the only ad I can afford. I got in this to improve a broken school system, to fix entitlements because they're going bankrupt, to expand health coverage because it will save money if fewer people show up in emergency rooms. What I found is that Presidential campaigns aren't about these things. They're about clawing your opponents' eyes out as 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 approve this ad."


  • Freedonia is the mythical country in the 1933 Marx Brothers film "Duck Soup". In this episode, Santos complains that political discourse has fallen so low that when during a debate, one politician was asked recently about the "situation in Freedonia", he claimed he was "studying it" and nobody followed up. In the 1960's, Woody Allen, while working for the TV show Candid Camera used Freedonia as a practical joke by asking passersby what they thought of the bid for independence for Freedonia. A similar situation had happened in real life. In the 1990s, a satirical magazine called Spy pulled a practical joke, in which they got several Congressional members to issue statements condemning the ethnic cleansing in Freedonia.
  • In his speech, Santos cites his desire "to fix entitlements because they're going bankrupt". In American politics this usually refers to both Social Security and Medicare, but the former at least was "saved" in The West Wing continuity in Slow News Day, making this statement somewhat odd.
  • During the 1997 General Election in the United Kingdom, Tony Blair refused to debate the sitting Prime Minister, John Major, so the Prime Minister's campaign team sent a chicken to every campaign rally Blair held.[1]



Special Guest Stars[]

Guest Starring[]


  • Ivan Allen as Roger Salier
  • Joe Egender as Santos Volunteer
  • Jay Brazeau as Mackey Lowell
  • Gabe Cohen as Studio Manager
  • Joe Ochman as News Director
  • Reg Basco Hernandez as Russell Aide
  • Wesley Harris as Moderator
  • Kevin Hare as Chicken Bob
  • Sterling Jarvis as Secret Service Agent
  • Mark Joe Packer as Technician
  • Paul Clark as Reporter
  • Laura DeCarteret as Reporter #6
  • Saida Rodriguez-Pagan as Reporter #5
  • Krista Sutton as Reporter #1
  • Micheal Rhoades as Reporter #3
  • Hamish McEwan as Reporter #2
  • Erin Gooderham as Reporter #7
  • Jonathan Walker as Reporter #8
  • Jerry Levitan as TV Producer
  • Wendy Haller as Woman #1
  • Kevin Bundy as Man #1
  • Shari Hollett as Woman #2


"The West Wing" Freedonia (2005)
The West Wing: Freedonia