West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Sixth Season Episodes * #611 "Opposition Research"
Jimmy Smits as Matt Santos
NBC Photo: Paul Drinkwater
Written by: Eli Attie, Directed by: Christopher Misiano
Takes Place: After Christmas and before the New Hampshire Primary Election
Broadcast: January 12, 2005 (9 pm ET on NBC)

Josh is realizing that the very thing that had attracted him to Santos --- his idealism --- may make running his campaign harder than Josh had expected it to be. Santos tells him what he wants:
"I want this to be a campaign of ideas.... Entitlements are collapsing, our school system's a joke, you could sneak a fleet of tanks across the Canadian border and these campaigns always wind up being about a candidate's high school transcripts.... You know, if we just took the money the campaign spent on personality contests and partisan side shows, we could solve this country's problems and shut down talk radio, all at the same time.... You know, I almost wish we could have a campaign slogan without my name in it.... How about a kick-off speech on education?"
"...New Hampshire is about retail politics.... People here won't vote for you until you've had coffee in their house five times."
Later in their new (unfinished) campaign headquarters, Santos says to all three of his staff members, "You, know they say, 'democracy is about how we choose who gets the blame'. Well, I will take the blame but I will never forget those of you who deserve the credit. Thank you for being with me at the start of this crazy roller-coaster ride."

Josh calls Toby when he gets a chance, who asks him,
"Have you and Santos had the conversation yet?"
"Not yet."
"Have the conversation."
"You think this whole campaign's kinda goofy, don't you?"
"Yeah," Toby says, drawing the word out slowly and knowing that Josh is thinking the same thing.

Josh talks to some local politicians telling them how much better Santos is than Russell,
"Senator, you're looking for the next Jed Bartlet, I'm telling you it's Santos. Top of his class at Annapolis, coalition building mayor. He's written more legislation than Bob Russell's read. Why do you think I left the White House to run this?
"Well, you do give him credibility," says a the Russell-leaning Senator who has gotten campaign money from both Russell and Hoynes.

And Santos is still talking about education as he tells some possible supporters:
"America is 48th in the world in literacy; that's down 18 spots in the last 50 years. Why? Well, for starters the 180 days a year school year... We're in a global economy now. Japan's at 243 days, Germany's at 240."
Josh wants to deal in politics and Santos tells him, "No opposition research; no dirt on our opponents."

The talk between Josh and Santos doesn't go well. Josh calls on Joey Lucus to get "opposition research". And when Josh goes to meet Will, Will calls in one of his deputies who turns out to be Donna. Josh and Donna are uncomfortable with this change in their relationship and don't quite know where to go with it. Later Josh tells her,
"You should be with me."
"You're right, I let Russell seduce me with mindless perks like a salary and actual political support."
"And what make work job do they have you doing over there?"
"Media targeting for the northeast and Pacific Northwest."
"Fine. We're still the ones with the gutsy education plan; the ones speaking the truth about the New Hampshire primary."
"You know what Russell has been speaking about on his trips here? ...local issues."
"You mean pandering."
"I mean what voters want. Campaigns are about them, not us. You taught me that."

Bartlet calls Josh saying he wants a vigorous campaign so he gives Josh some numbers on education in New Hampshire. Turns out the opposition research Josh ordered was on Santos, who talks to him about having two months to discuss education:
"Two months? I gave up everything for this. You aren't even in it to win?"
"Maybe we have a different definition of wining, Josh."

Just when Josh feels most down, thing start happening. The other campaigns feel pressured to come out with their own education plans. As one of the staff tells him,
"No one was talking about it, now they all are.... We're moving the debate, Josh."
Then Liz Bartlet comes back after first trying to arrange a photo op for Santos that went sour. She tells him, "...your guy has one hell of an education plan. My dad thinks so, too. Only campaign that's saying much of anything." Then she hands Josh a personal check.
"You're giving Matt Santos $2000? ...Liz, this goes on a publically disclosed donor list. This is a Bartlet family contribution to Santos for President."

Later Josh and Santos continue their discussion. Santos asks him,
"Have you taken one moment to think about whether you even like my education plan? ...whether it's actually right for the country?"
"I didn't have to hear it to know it would be right."
Santos takes a breath at this, then tells Josh, "I do want to win, you know. But I can't do it by being just another cardboard cut out, even if it is smart tactics."
"You can't run a national campaign on your own. No one can."
"New Hampshire's over with, isn't it."
"You're not making it easy."
"Well, you know if we're going to do this, I'm not going to make it easy.... I'm going to push every limit. And that's the campaign you get to run."
"What if I can't make that work?"
"Well, then no one can." As they walk into a meeting, Santos tells Josh, "When you get the rest of that research, we'll go over it together."
When they get inside Josh remarks to one of the staff, "This is more people than we expected."
"Yeah, some of the neighbors came."
"Mostly 'cause they think he's nuts. But they're curious; that ain't nothing."
And miracle of miracles, Santos does take some of Josh's advice.

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