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The Vinick camp decides to turn the tables on the Santos campaign by targeting issues of immigration - issues Santos has avoided.




Vinick finishes up a speech. Frost starts National Security briefing in the bathroom. Bruno and Vinick discuss the resignation of Senate. Vinick does not agree. Leon shows a TV spot which goes negative. Bruno does not want to use it. Vinick decides to shelve the negative ad unless Santos brings up Vinick's voting record.

Act I

Vinick films approval of ads. Vinick and Dan then review the new polls. Vinick tells press that Santos did his duty and hopes that he continues his duty when Vinick is President. Santos watches the news as he is practicing interviewing.

On his plane, Sheila, Bruno, Dan, and Vinick discuss their message of the week: homeland security. Vinick wants to change it to attack Santos. Dan suggests going to after the Latino vote. Bruno disagrees, but Vinick pushes for it and decides to make policy announcements about Latino policies.

Josh is celebrating as it starts to look like the Santos campaign is gaining momentum after learning Vinick has cancelled the VFW and it looks like Maine is blue. However, the celebration is short lived when he finds out Vinick is ready to start negotiating debate rules.

Bruno is upset when he finds out about Maine. Vinick comes to meet Sheila who informs him that he has to meet with George Rohr, a religious political operative. The Vinick campaign then meets to discuss the plan to move forward with the Latino policy plans. One of the plans is to attack Santos on Central American trade, which he has flip flopped on.

Act II

George Rohr arrives to meet with the Vinick team to discuss judges. Vinick and George have a history and Vinick is not excited for the meeting. Vinick and George talk privately. The religious right is concerned about the judges Vinick might appoint. Vinick assures George that the VP will be the point man on judges and will recommend pro-life judges. George is not convinced, and Arnold offers a secret to try to change his mind.

In El Paso, the Vinick campaign continues to see it's lead dwindle. Vinick is campaigning on homeland Security.

On the Santos plane, Lou speaks with the press about the Latino policy issues. She brings it to Santos and they discuss how to respond to Vinick's speeches. Ellen Travers comes in to discuss what Lou has briefed him on. He sounds strong.

Bruno runs to Sheila's desk to show her that Drudge report is going to approve pro-life judges. She calls Vinick to tell him he needs to deny it. Vinick blows her off.


Vinick continues to campaign at the border and is pressed on his position on the Minutemen and Border Patrol.

At Boeing, Santos is campaigning on American jobs but is jarred as the press pushes him on the Latino policies, especially the point about the Border Patrol and Minutemen being vigilantes. At HQ, Josh is informed. Bruno comes to see Josh about debate negotiations and Josh fights with him over Bruno supporting a Republican. They actually discuss nothing.


Bruno and team discuss their progress as the Santos momentum has slowed over the Latino move. Vinick takes the podium to introduce a bill for a guest worker program. Santos finds out and wants to follow Vinick's lead. Lou informs him he can't. Santos is upset about the positive swing to Vinick.

Both teams watch Vinick do an interview on hardball about his Latino policies. He is also pressed on the judges. Vinick avoids the question about pro-life judges. George Rohr is disappointed.

Act IV

In Chicago on Thursday, Josh and Santos speak in his hotel room about the message of the week. Josh wants to hammer Vinick on the judges issue.

In Richmond, the Vinick campaign talks about the judges. Vinick confirms his promise to Rohr about the judges. He claims it was a lie. Rohr wants to meet again and Vinick says it is impossible. He goes on a tirade over the religious right. Bruno suggests to push this over to Sullivan.

Back at the podium, Vinick continues to discuss his Latino policies, especially CAFTA. He takes a dig at Santos' voting record on the issue and avoids the judges question.

On the plane, Josh, Lou, and Santos prep for their next reporter interview. A reporter from the Chicago times enters and they talk about CAFTA. Santos is asked directly why he didn't vote for it. He declares CAFTA was not a fair deal. He confirms he voted for it in committee, but voted against on the floor because it had been hacked. Vinick continues to gain momentum.

George and Sullivan meet. George is very upset and feels humiliated by Vinick. Sullivan asks him to not push harder and reminds George that he would be next in line. Sullivan threatens George to say there better not be any surprises.

Leon hands a letter of resignation to Vinick. He declares he can't support Vinick to work against the possible first Latino American president. Sullivan and Vinick chat and Sullivan confirms he got Rohr to back down.



Special Guest Stars[]

Guest Starring[]


Trivia / Goofs[]

  • At this point in the series, the episode is tied with The Long Goodbye for fewest main cast members appearing in an episode at three. It was surpassed later in the season in The Debate.
  • In this episode Bruno tells Shelia and Vinick that a senator hasn't been elected since 1960, referring to JFK. Three years after this episode was aired, in the 2008 Presidential Election Senator Barack Obama was elected to become the 44th President. However, Obama's Republican opponent was fellow Senator John McCain.
  • Gov. Ray Sullivan tells the pro-life representative that he always appointed pro-life judges while he was Governor of West Virginia and will have the same point of view when he becomes Vice President. But real judges in West Virginia are not appointed; they are elected.
  • This 2005 episode was written by Lawrence O'Donnell and temporarily introduces two Vinick staffers, Dan (played by William Russ) and Leon Montero (played by Julian Acosta). O'Donnell also created the short-lived 2003 political drama Mister Sterling, which featured Russ playing another political staffer (Tommy Doyle) and a character called Leon Montero (played by David Norona), both staffers working for California Senator Bill Sterling (Josh Brolin, son of James Brolin, who played Robert Ritchie in The West Wing)
  • While the elevated prominence of a kind of war on terror had been part of The West Wing's storylines since season 3, in this episode a reporter says the need to "stop Al Qaeda at the Rio Grande" is a security issue for the United States and the terror group are also referenced in the next episode Mr Frost. This is a departure from The West Wing continuity where 9/11 has not happened and the fictional Bahji terror network were the main terror threat. Vinick's campaign also talk about "homeland security" (as opposed to e.g. "national security"), a phrase that entered America's discourse post-9/11 but isn't heard much in the show.


Senator Arnold Vinick: He's what wrong with this party. Not me.... The United States Senate gets to advise and consent on judges, not the clergy.

Bruno: First one to go negative is a show of weakness.


"The West Wing" Message of the Week (2005)