Title: Time to Lead
Author: Cathy Miller ( .com)
Timeline: 6th season, A Change is Gonna Come
Disclaimer: All the good writing is from the show, the rest is my original work.
Feedback: It's only fair to send something back…
Rating: PG, a little language
"I would also like to find a way to be involved in the ongoing pursuit of peace in that region
and yes, Diane I would like to return to public life. I think I can make a contribution." John
Hoynes was telling the interviewer as Josh Lyman watched him on TV dispassionately.
The son of a bitch could do it too, Josh admitted. John Hoynes was that good.
Josh looked over at his desk and the copy of John Hoynes' book Full Disclosure that
Hoynes had personally sent over to him. Inside the front cover, Hoynes had written an
inscription, "Josh, Time to lead, John". Josh was ashamed to admit just how tempting that
offer was; and it was an offer. It was a legitimate offer from a Democratic heavyweight who
wanted him to run things, which was a far cry from his current standing at the Bartlet
With a heavy sigh, Josh turned off the TV by remote and went to meet the man himself.
He slipped into the front passenger seat of John's car and turned in his seat to face the
former Vice President of the United States.
"Thanks for coming, Josh. Did you see the interview?"
"No." Josh lied easily. He was a political operative after all.
"Did you look at the book?" Hoynes questioned further.
"No." Josh lied again.
"Okay, if you're going to bust my chops, Josh, let's get it over with."
"I have no idea why I'm here, Mr. Vice President." Josh said impatiently. John Hoynes just
met his eyes levelly.
"Yes, you do." Hoynes replied. "Now I've done things I can never undo, lost one marriage,
I'm trying to save another, let down my children, fallen off the pedestal hard and had to
deal with the consequences. But when I look around and see Bingo Bob Russell and Eric
Baker I see plenty of reasons to stay sober."
"You think the American people are going to welcome you back with open arms?"
"I'm a better person and I'll be a better candidate than I was 8 years ago." Hoynes argued.
"You lost that race." Josh reminded him.
"I lost that race…when I lost you." John replied. "There's much to be done and seven
years of following isn't enough, it's time to start leading. You're never going to be Leo
McGarry to Jed Bartlet, but you can be Leo to me. I'm running for President. I want you
with me. I want you to run my campaign."
It had been a hell of a week. All hell had broken loose over a flap with the Taiwanese flag
and after weeks of negotiating the summit in China, Josh had been thrown into putting out
all the fires. Just when he thought he'd gotten the flames down to embers, CJ threw
gasoline on it. She would be going with the President to China, not Josh and she
backpedaled on their agreement to let Hunt speak on the floor regarding Taiwanese
Josh felt a burning in his gut; an impotence in his job he'd never experienced before. If he
was honest with himself, he'd admit that it started when the President bypassed him and
appointed C.J. as his new Chief of Staff. He'd tried to be happy for his friend, he really
had but he couldn't help but wonder why the President hadn't chosen him.
He could pinpoint exactly when it was that he made his decision. The President, and C.J.,
and had just left for the China summit (that he'd painstakingly put together) and Donna
had readjusted his schedule to fit in a meeting with Charlie. When he'd questioned why
she'd done that, she'd admitted that it was a 'direct order from C.J.'. That was the moment
he'd snapped. Oh, he'd continued to do his job and went through the motions, but part of
him had already left the White House.
"Donna, can I see you for a minute please?" Josh stood next to her desk with serious eyes.
Donna had noted a change in her boss ever since C.J. was promoted and she supposed
that was to be expected, but it still concerned her. It wasn't PTSD level concern, but it was
concern, and now he was standing at her desk quietly requesting a private word with her?
This was definitely out of character. She couldn't imagine what this was about.
Josh took a seat behind his desk and motioned for her to shut his door before she sat
down. He leaned forward on his desk.
"I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. I've made some decisions and since some of them
concern you I wanted to talk to you first."
"Decisions about what?"
"About resigning my position as Deputy Chief of-"
"No." Donna said calmly. "You can't do that Josh. The President needs you."
"I know it must have hurt you that he appointed C.J. to Leo's job and I don't understand
his reasoning myself, but you can't let that overshadow all the good you've accomplished
on his behalf. The whole China trip? That was all because of you."
"I appreciate your loyalty, but-"
"Screw loyalty. This has nothing to do with loyalty. None of this has had anything to do
with loyalty, or you'd be the one sitting in Leo's chair right now. This about trying to stop
my friend from making what I think what be a terrible mistake, personally and politically.
Give it a little more time Josh. Things will get better."
"They won't." Josh said simply. "What's more you know they won't. If you're worried about
your position here; don't. If the next Deputy want to bring a different assistant on board C.
J. will find another spot for you. I'll see to it."
"You think I'm worried about my job?" Donna said, insulted.
"I would be if I were you."
"What are you going to do?" she asked him.
Josh's eyes dropped down to his desk. "I haven't made a final decision yet."
"You're going to run Hoynes, aren't you?" He should have known she'd figure it out
between all the phone calls and the personalized book Hoynes had sent him. Donna was
bright and had been around enough to put 2 and 2 together.
"I haven't made a final decision yet." Josh repeated. "But I'm going out to Iowa with him for
a bit after I tell the President I'm resigning."
"And when will that be?"
"I asked for some time with him first thing tomorrow. My resignation will be effective close
of business Friday."
"That's less than a week." Donna noted. "You don't think there's any chance he won't
"I think there's absolutely no chance he won't accept it." Josh responded. "At this point in
his term, he'll replace me quickly and easily."
"I think you're wrong." Donna told him and made him smile.
"I don't know where I'm going to end up or I'd ask you to come with me." Josh wanted to
make that very clear. "I'd give anything to have you come with me."
Donna looked closely at him and realized what he was trying to say without actually saying
the words. "I know."
"If you want me to make some calls for you before I go…"
"I can make my own calls, but thanks." Donna got up and walked to the door. "I'm glad you
told me first, but I still think the President is going to try to talk you out of it."
Josh watched her go and wished she was right. He'd love for the President to try to talk
him out of it. At least then he'd know his contribution here meant something to the
President. But in the end, the President accepted Josh's resignation and thanked him for
his service, just as Josh predicted he would.
Iowa was cold. He hadn't remembered how cold it was. Or maybe it was just the fact that
his body was 8 years older the first time he'd been here with Governor Bartlet. Thinking
back to that time reminded him of Donna. When he'd left his office for the last time on
Friday, she had been unusually subdued, but she'd come to the Hawk and Dove with the
rest of the gang for an alcoholic sendoff. At the end of the evening, she'd hugged him and
reminded him to 'do good'.
Josh opened his cell and tried to call her again. It had been 5 days since he'd spoken to
her. He'd never gone 5 days without speaking to her since she came back to Bartlet's
campaign that fateful April. Truth be told, he was kind of hoping that this new dynamic, her
not working for him anymore, might finally open some doors between them, but he couldn'
t possibly open doors between them if she wouldn't even return his damn calls!
"You just got here, how can you look so vexed already?" John Hoynes asked him when he
met him on the sidewalk.
"I was born vexed." Josh replied. "Has it always been this cold here?" he asked as he
snapped his phone shut.
"It's the heartland, Josh. Breath the fresh air." John instructed.
"Fresh air doesn't agree with me, sir." Josh looked around. "What are you doing in terms
of television spots?"
"Jeff will give you the media schedules for here and in New Hampshire, but don't you
mean what are 'we' doing in terms of television spots?"
"I haven't signed on to anything yet." Josh reminded him.
"Maybe not, but I know who my competition is. You're going to turn me down for Russell?
Or maybe you have some masochistic tendencies I was unaware of and you'd like to help
Santos break his 2% hold in Iowa."
"Who says I have to run with any of you?" Josh countered.
"You are a political animal, Josh. You'd have to be in a coma to sit this race out." John told
him. "We're doing a coffee clutch at the Hardware store down the street. Come listen and
tell me that you think of David's answer for me on health care."
"Sure." Josh agreed and followed Hoynes and his entourage toward their destination. He
watched Hoynes carefully for signs of weakness during the informal speech and the Q & A
that followed afterwards. Hoynes was good; he was very good. But was he the one? Was
this his time?
They went back to Hoynes' Des Moines office and Josh listened to the back and forth
between the staffers and Hoynes. A few of the people assembled had worked nationals
before and David Thompson, Hoynes new speech writer had serious potential. But
throughout the entire meeting, Josh did not add a word. He didn't want to get invested in
this fight yet. He couldn't figure out what it was, but something was holding him back.
He had dinner with John Hoynes and they talked about some strategy, but Josh was
holding back and John Hoynes knew it. Hoynes also knew Josh well enough to know that
he didn't play nice with others when he was pushed. So Hoynes told him goodnight and
they made plans to meet at the candidate forum the following morning.
Josh was restless and decided to walk a bit. He found himself across the street from
Congressman Matt Santos who was giving an impassioned speech about something to a
small knot of voters who were giving him their attention. Curious, Josh walked over and
listened from a distance.
"We're falling further and further behind every other industrialized country in test scores. If
we don't make some radical, sweeping changes, our kids won't be able to compete
globally." Santos was telling them.
"I don't see why our kids HAVE to compete globally. We've got good job right here at
home." A resident disputed.
"Yes, we do, but our marketplace is changing and now the food you grow and the goods
you produce are being sold worldwide. Your competition isn't just across town or even
across the country, it's across the world." Santos looks up and catches sight of Josh.
"This man," he said indicating Josh, "is Josh Lyman and he's spent the last 7 years in the
White House dealing with foreign trade agreements. Josh, tell these good people where
most of our jobs are going right now."
"Overseas." Josh played along.
"That's right. We need to be sure our children are prepared for the world they're going to
inherit. By extending the school year, we can give teachers the time they need to teach
the skills that will ensure our future in a global economy." Santos told them before his
assistant interrupted and told Matt it was time to get going. Matt thanked his audience for
their time and walked over to shake hands with Josh.
"I heard rumors you were headed out here to stump for Hoynes." Matt greeted him.
"Congressman." Josh acknowledged him.
"Matt, please, so the rumors are true?"
"I'm still keeping an open mind about who I'll work for." Josh told him and Matt's eyebrows
"Really? Then I have a shot at landing you for my campaign?"
"I said open minded, not suicidal, Congressman."
"Ouch." Matt put his hand over his heart in mock pain. "And it's Matt."
"What are you doing out here, sir?" Josh asked candidly.
"I'm running for President, Josh." Matt replied easily.
"There are 7 Democratic candidates in the field and you're tied for last place. You're
fundraising is non-existent so even if you did have a viable message nobody would hear
"Don't sugar coat it for me Josh, tell it to me straight." Matt laughed. "There are issues to
be raised here. Important issues."
"Ah-kay." Josh tipped his head to show he wasn't going to fight about it. "Good luck."
"Thanks." Matt replied and Josh turned away, but he didn't make it 10 feet before he
"Hey, Congressman; free advice. When you're on the street, stick with local issues or ask
the voters for their input. Save your revolution of the entire American educational system
for venues where they can't get up and walk away so easily." Josh advised him.
"Thanks!" Matt laughed again. "I'll keep that in mind."
Josh shook his head and walked back to his hotel. Matt Santos had done great work in
Congress but as a Presidential candidate? The man hadn't a hope in hell.
Josh had never been a morning person, so his eyes were still bleary when he made his
way down to the hotel meeting room where the candidates were gathering for their "Ask
the Candidate" forum. He walked directly to the coffee urn and filled his cup to the rim he
took a sip and slowly turned to where the candidates were gathering near the dais. His
eyes scanned the men and women there. He saw Bingo Bob at one end and he nearly
spilled his entire cup of coffee on himself. Standing next to Bingo Bob, handing him a
sheaf of papers stood Donnatella Moss.
He must have cried out when he spilled the hot coffee because nearly every head in the
room turned in his direction, including Donna's. The shock on her face must have
matched his which he thought was unfair because he had at least told her where he was
going. Donna Moss was going to get a piece of his mind.
I felt everyone staring at me and attempted a reassuring smile to let them know that I'm
just clumsy, not deranged. I used several napkins to sop up the worst of the damage while
I kept an eye on Donna. She pretended to return her attention to Bingo Bob, but I know
better. She was as aware of where I was every moment as I was of her. I walked slowly but
purposefully toward the dais, stopping to shake a hand or fake interest in some other
candidate, but I never stopped moving toward Donna.
I walk up behind her and lean closer so my words aren't overheard by anyone nearby.
"Donna, could I speak with you for a minute, please?" She doesn't turn her head but her
body stiffened as soon as my first word reached her ear. She mumbled something to
Russell and walked quickly to an unoccupied corner of the meeting room.
"What it is, Josh? I'm trying to bring the Vice President up to speed on some important
issues before the event starts."
"The event starts in ten minutes, Donna. You don't have enough time to bring Bingo Bob
up to speed on how to walk over to his podium on the dais, let alone any important issues."
"Bingo Bob, Donna?" I asked incredulously. "Did you start smoking crack as soon as I
left? C.J. said she was going to offer you an assistant position in her office."
"I didn't want a job as an assistant in C.J.'s office." Donna replied. "Any job in the White
House is done in a year."
"And you think hitching your wagon to Russell's star is going to give you some kind of job
"Are you going to stand there and try to claim the high road when you're here for Hoynes?
"I haven't made any commitments to anyone, yet." I tossed back. She frowned at me.
"But you're here." She countered. "You didn't take a trip to Iowa for the corn." She took a
deep breath and blew it out. "Look, I know how much it hurt you to be passed over for C.O.
S., and I'm sure Hoynes pursued you with a full court press; that had to soothe a lot of the
wounds to your ego."
"My ego is just fine, thank you very much." I said hotly.
"But Hoynes comes with a lot of baggage, and I'm not sure he can overcome all of that;
even with a brilliant political strategist like you in his corner." See, she says stuff like
'brilliant political strategist' in the hopes that I will be distracted enough with the
compliment that I'll forget whatever other thing I'm arguing with her about. It doesn't work
this time, although I file the comment away for further contemplation later.
"Baggage or not, he's going to wipe the floor with Russell. Just watch." I warned her.
"Will and I are going to make sure that doesn't happen." She assured me. Will?
"I'm sorry, you and Will are going to do that?" I almost laugh, but stop myself in time.
"You don't think we can?" She gets in my face on that line and despite the fact that our
argument is getting heated and we're drawing a bit of a crowd, I can't help stopping to
admire the fire she's got in her eyes.
"Donna, I have the utmost faith in you, but Will is a pinhead. He proved that when he
bailed on us and went over to the dark side with Russell."
"Then you don't think I can do it?" she reframed the question and I'm stuck.
"I doubt anyone could do it. He's THAT bad." I paused for effect. "But I hear there's a
wizard in the Emerald City that might be able to get him a brain." A couple reporters
covering the event laughed at that line and I get the sinking feeling I might have taken it a
bit too far. Donna is now seething; I think actual smoke is coming out of her ears.
"Really? Maybe you should come too, you could get Hoynes a heart." She retorted. Damn
the woman is good. Is it any wonder she fascinates me. "I think you should put up or shut
up, Joshua. Who's your candidate going to be? Me, I'm working for the front runner and
Vice President of the United States."
"Me? I'd rather work for a Republican than Bingo Bob." I told her, then lowered my voice.
"You're too good for that campaign, Donna. You're too good for him." I noticed her face
softened a bit when I said that.
"I have work to do." She told me and marched right back over to Russell. Shit.
Will Bailey walked over to me; further proof that the man is a pinhead. Couldn't he tell I
was glaring at him from over here?
"Josh. I heard you were coming to town. Have you already signed on with Hoynes?" I don't
answer but instead continue to watch Donna. "Donna came to me, you know. I didn't
realize her working for us would be a problem or I wouldn't have hired her." This is what I
mean about Will Bailey. He won't even take responsibility for hiring Donna if he thinks it
may piss me off enough that I'll back Hoynes and send Russell back to the stone age.
Weasel. I turn from my view of Donna just long enough to glare at Will close up and
"You should go help your candidate. He needs a lot of it." Will turned red, but left me
alone without further comment. Asshole.
David Thompson approached me next. "Mr. Lyman? I was wondering if I could ask your
opinion about a couple things for the stump speech?" I pushed my dark thoughts to the
back burner and faced this young man who thought I had some kind of magic answers for
"Call me Josh, David. The stump is good. You really don't need my seal of approval."
"Maybe, but I'd like it." He told me. "You're a legend in these circles. I think I could learn a
lot from you." Did I tell you this kid was bright?
"Let's sit in the back and talk. I think I've attracted enough attention up here for the
moment." We sat in the very back row and David picked my brain for awhile as the
candidates gave 30 second sound bite answers to questions about Ethanol. They only
had half of my attention since frankly, I found the kid far more interesting than the lot of
them, so I missed the first part of Santos' answer. My ears did perk up at one point though.
"…Ethanol is not the solution to our energy problems. I could not and would not support
Ethanol subsidies as President of the United States." There was a murmur of discontented
voters and I wanted to warn Santos to duck before he got pelted by corn kernels, but he
continued. "We need a viable energy alternative and that's not Ethanol. I know that's
probably not the answer you want to hear, it would certainly impact some of the money
coming into your wallet, but I think we need to look at the big picture and ensure a strong
energy future for our children."
I blinked. Then I shook my head to clear it. I just had the most bizarre case of Déjà vu. My
head whipped around to see Donna's reaction to Santos' statement. Did it remind her of
Nashua, too? Then I remembered she hadn't been there that night in the VFW hall. Still,
she looked thoughtfully at Santos now. Did he remind her of someone too? Our eyes met
briefly, but she quickly averted her gaze again. She leaned closer to Will and whispered
something to him. She was probably commenting about how Santos just lost any prayer
he had of making a decent showing here. The man was toast.
"Josh?" David brought my attention back to him. "Why the hell would he say that here?
Didn't he just commit suicide?"
"Yep. There's only one reason a candidate would say something like that in a place like
this." I explained.
"Because he honestly believes it's the truth." Suddenly, I've got a really good handle on
what Santos is doing in Iowa.
"So what did you think?" Hoynes asks me.
"Nobody on that dais had your experience, poise, or political acumen." I answered
"Then help me bring this to the next level." He commanded. "I need you Josh."
"I have…concerns." I stated carefully. We're in Hoynes' hotel room so I'm not worried
about being overheard, but I do want to couch my concerns carefully. Hoynes may be the
only man in Washington who hates being second-guessed more than I do.
"And those are?"
"Let's start with the chain of command. I call the shots. I'm willing to discuss strategy with
you and the rest of the team, but I have the final say." I offered.
"That's why I want you to be the campaign manager." He answered.
"The alcoholism?" I prompted.
"I haven't had a drink in years."
"So there's not going to be anyone coming out of the woodwork claiming you got drunk
with them or even had a drink with them?"
"Good. What about the women?"
"God, Josh, why don't you just lay it on the line?"
"I am. You want me to come work for you. That means my reputation would be tied to
yours. I won't be a part of another sex scandal or have all my hard work on the campaign
tanked because you can't keep your zipper zipped."
"That's all in the past." He assures me.
"Even if that's true, women from the past may make an appearance. Are you and Suzanne
prepared to handle that?"
"We've already started. If you'd seen my interview with Diane Mather-"
"I did." I told him. "It was a start, but she was lobbing softballs at you. The questions are
going to get a hell of a lot tougher and a lot more personal."
"And you can sit there and promise me that there won't be any new…incidents?"
"Yes, I can."
"Okay…then. I guess I'm in." I shook his hand and we started to make plans.
I'm grabbing a sandwich with David while we go over some talking points when Matt
Santos approaches me.
"So you've made a decision about who to support?" he says pointedly.
"Nothing personal, Congressman. John Hoynes and I go back a long ways and after the
way you imploded yesterday, I think you'd have better luck getting votes as the Prom King
in Des Moines than you would getting votes for the Democratic nomination."
"Josh is always protecting my fragile self-esteem." Santos told David. "I'm Matt Santos, I'm
running for President."
"David Thompson, speech writer for Vice President Hoynes."
"David if you want to pick someone's brain. You should try Congressman Santos, here." I
advise him. "He got a hell of a reputation on the hill. Rumor was that he wrote his own
"That's only because I didn't trust anyone else to put words in my mouth." Matt says
agreeably and sits down across from Josh and next to David. "Was it hard to leave the
White House to come back out on the campaign trail?" he asks me.
"It was easier than you might think." I grin. "Was it hard to decide not to run for re-election
"It was easier than you might think." Santos grins back and I nod knowingly. David shoots
his gaze from me to Santos to me again like he's watching a ping pong game.
"David, you should bring those changes back to the Vice President. I'll be right there."
David immediately excuses himself and I'm left alone with Santos.
"It was a gutsy move." I tell him. "The papers are full of it this morning."
"Hoynes was against it too." Santos points out.
"He's always been against it, and his oil buddies pay him well to be against it. He can
survive tanking in Iowa; he needs to play to the general election audience. Who are you
"Nobody…myself." Santos replies.
"There's great freedom when you don't have to worry about getting elected." I note and
he nods. "So, having decided to retire from Congress, you figured one last hurrah on a
national campaign would be…what? Fun?"
"You know what? It is. I've gotten more press and more attention for the issues I believe in
as a no chance Presidential contender than I ever had in my 3 terms in Congress." I
shake my head and laugh.
"Yeah, you certainly have." I agree. "As long as you're spitting into the wind, you should
hit universal health care."
"That's point number 3 in my 8 point plan."
"8 point plan?"
"I may not be a serious contender, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't have a plan."
"Matt? The Des Moines Register would like a word."
"Sure. Josh, this is Ned, my campaign manager." I shake his hand reluctantly. "I'll be right
there." Santos tells him.
"You know what your 9th point should be?" I ask him and he shakes his head 'no'.
"Finding a real campaign manager; someone who refers to you as Congressman, would
be a good start."
"I told him to call me Matt. He was doing what I told him to do."
"Exactly why you should find a real manager. You don't have any experience in a National
campaign. You should be taking directions from a manager, not the other way around" I
reiterate. "Matt is a guy you sit down and have a beer with. A Congressman is someone
who has political clout and the gravitas to handle being President."
Santos stands up to leave. "You better be careful, Josh. All this free advice you're giving
me might end up biting you in the ass."
"Tell you what, when you break 5% and the close the gap between you and Hoynes to a
mere 20 points I'll stop offering the free advice." I assure him. He smiles again and goes
out to meet the Register reporter. God, I wish I could get him to reconsider running for re-
election in his Congressional district.
I re-read the quote for the second time. It's attributed to John Hoynes but it's got Josh
Lyman written all over it. It's only been a week since Josh signed on with Hoynes and
already he's climbed 8 points. Son of a bitch, the man is good. Not that he'll be hearing
that from me.
I walk into the Vice President's office where he and Will are strategizing a response to the
Hoynes smack down about Russell's ties to the coal industry.
"Listen, I've been thinking about this response." I tell them and both their heads pop up.
They've both been pretty open to hearing my suggestions and ideas but I haven't really
pushed any of them either. I'm about to find out just how far my sphere of influence
"We've just about finished drafting the response." Will tells me. "It distances him from the
coal industry without actually crossing any honesty lines. Then we launch our idea for
more regulations and higher standards for pollution stemming from coal."
"I'm sure it's good." I confirm. I haven't worked with Josh Lyman for years without learning
to stroke a guy's ego while getting him to change his mind at the same time; it's an
acquired skill. "But I don't think we should distance him from his record on coal."
"We kind of have to, Donna. Hoynes is claiming we're owned by the coal industry. He
needs to show his independence from that." Will explains like I'm a child. Josh may be
right about him.
"We have to respond, I agree, but not by distancing himself from coal; he should embrace
it." I suggest. They both look at me like I'm nuts. Work with me here guys. "It's his record
and he shouldn't back away from it like a flip flipper just because Hoynes implied there
was something wrong with it."
"Then how do we respond?" The Vice President asks.
"Of course the Vice President supported the coal industry while he was a Congressman,
he fought extremely hard for the them then. They were his constituents. Coal is extremely
important in his home state. But once he became Vice President, he had to represent all
the people of the United States and that's what he's done. He worked very hard in the
best interest of the people of Colorado when he was Congressman and he'll work equally
hard for what is in the best interest of the country when he's President." Okay, that might
have come out a little too fast because it takes them both a minute to catch up.
"Sir?" Will defers to the Vice President's opinion.
"I like it. I like it a lot." He confirms. "Put it out there."
I nod and quickly leave the room before I pump my hand in the air as a signal of victory.
Donnatella Moss's sphere of influence has just gotten bigger; much bigger.
"…he'll work equally hard for what is in the best interest of the country when he's
President?" Josh read out loud. "Hoist on my own petard by my former assistant."
"She's good. You must have taught her well. Maybe you should convince her to come join
us." Hoynes suggested.
"I don't think she would." Josh told him. "I may have made a strategic error there and
implied it was a sort of competition between us."
"Josh, it's almost hard to believe you're still single." Hoynes teased him.
"This is a work thing, not a male/female thing." Josh maintained.
"Uh-huh." Hoynes leaned closer to Josh at the conference table. "You know there were a
lot of rumors about you two while you were at the White House, right?"
"Unfounded rumors." Josh said in an even voice.
"Uh-huh." John replied nonchalantly. "So what's up next?"
"You've got one more interview then we've decided to pack it up and go to New
Hampshire." Josh told him.
"We're just conceding Iowa?" he questioned.
"The caucus is tomorrow and we're within 4 points, that's a better than expected." Josh
pointed out. "We'll concentrate on New Hampshire and make the win there along with
gaining momentum the story."
"That's why I pay you the big bucks Josh." Hoynes jested. "Anything in particular I should
hit on in the interview?"
"Foreign policy is Bingo Bob's biggest weakness. It couldn't hurt to hammer on that a bit.
And bring up your no pac contribution pledge. See if the paper can put some pressure on
Russell to swear off mining industry money."
"Got it." Hoynes put on his jacket and strode from the room. Josh had been keeping close
tabs on Hoynes and so far Josh hadn't seen anything that set off his inner alarm bell, but
he wasn't done watching. Hoynes was going to have to earn Josh's trust.
They hit the ground running in New Hampshire and immediately it was neck and neck
between Hoynes and Russell. The papers had dubbed it 'Dueling Vice Presidents'.
Donna started giving statements to the press. She was articulate, attractive, and
personable. The press loved her. Even though Josh was sick about who she was shilling
for, he had to admire the job she was doing. Several times a day he was asked to
comment on some statement or other Donna had made. It became a public forum for
private communication. They only spoke through the press.
When Donna was asked to compare the characters of the two lead candidates she
"Someone should ask why voters should entrust John Hoynes with our highest elected
office, when we've already seen him make grave mistakes in his personal life."
"Mr. Lyman, would you care to respond to Ms. Moss's allegation that your candidate has
made grave mistakes in his personal life?"
"I am in no position to make judgments about the choices other people have made in their
personal life. Does Ms. Moss really want to contend that she's never made a mistake
about someone in her personal life?"
"Ms. Moss, Josh Lyman wants to know if you can maintain that you've never made a
mistake about someone in your life."
"Well, I did work for Josh Lyman for several years, but I'll let those of you who know him
decide whether or not that was a mistake." Donna paused. "You know, now that I think
about it, I remember I told a lie once too. I lied for Josh about his availability when he
wanted to get out of a meeting with Vice President Hoynes. Please apologize to him for my
error." The reporters laughed.
"Hey, Josh. Donna Moss sends her apology. She does remember telling a lie. It was when
you wanted to get out of a meeting with Vice President Hoynes." Josh's lip twitched.
"Well that could have been just about anytime." Josh joked back. "In fact just this
morning…" he trailed off.
"Seriously, Josh, don't you think character should be part of the criteria for running for
"Absolutely. So should overcoming adversity. John Hoynes paid for his mistakes, and has
become a stronger person for having gone through all that he has."
"So who is the better judge of character, you or Donna Moss?" The reporter pressed Josh.
"Clearly I am." Josh grinned. "After all, she thought I would be a good person to work for."
"Donna, what is it like to go head to head against someone you worked for and admired?"
"Leo McGarry is working on the Hoynes campaign now?" Donna deadpanned.
"I meant Josh Lyman." The reporter clarified.
"Ahhh. I haven't given it much thought." Donna lied through her teeth. "Anything else?"
"What do you think about the decision to limit the Democratic debate to just Hoynes and
Donna paused before she answered. This issue had brought some serious contention
between her and Will. "I think the entire field of Democratic candidates is strong and each
of them has a substantive contribution to make."
"Then you're in favor of opening the debate to the entire field?"
"That's not my decision to make." Donna hedged, then groaned when the Hoynes camp
entered the hotel lobby she was currently occupying and she and Josh came face to face
about 10 feet apart. The reporters jumped on the timely arrival.
"Josh, does the Hoynes campaign feel it's fair to limit the candidates allowed to take part
in the debate this week?"
"Of course not." Josh said decidedly. "How can the voters of New Hampshire make a well
informed decision if they don't have a chance to see and hear all the candidates? John
Hoynes doesn't have anything to fear from standing on a stage with the full field."
The reporters turned en mass back to Donna. "Is Vice President Russell afraid to debate
the entire field of candidates? Is that why your campaign hasn't spoken out against the
decision to only allow Russell and Hoynes?"
Josh smirked and put his hands in his pockets. He rocked back and forth on his heels
waiting for Donna's response.
"Bob Russell has been elected repeatedly to Congress and has taken part in numerous
debates. He isn't afraid of any of the other Presidential contenders."
"Then you'll join me in my request to the paper sponsoring the debate demanding that all
the candidates be allowed to participate?" Josh asked Donna directly.
"I'm not the campaign manager. I don't get to make those kinds of calls, as you well know."
Donna responded directly to Josh moving physically closer to him.
"Then Russell's campaign manager is the one who's afraid to have his candidate face the
full field." Josh surmised. "Does Will Bailey really need to keep such a close reign on
Bingo Bob? What is he afraid will happen if he gets off the leash?"
"You might at least pretend to have a little respect for the office of the Vice President."
Donna snapped moving still closer to Josh.
"Oh, I have plenty of respect for the office of the Vice President. That's why I don't think
Bob Russell should be in it." Josh countered while reporters wrote furiously on their note
pads and shoved their mics closer to catch every word between Josh and Donna.
"Are you saying John Hoynes, who had to resign in disgrace, was a better Vice President
than Bob Russell has been?" Donna accused.
"Any day of the week and twice on Sunday." Josh maintained. Donna and Josh had been
so focused on each other that they didn't notice when another party joined them.
"Can anyone join this debate or is this one limited to the top two candidates too?" Matt
Santos asked. Josh and Donna were startled by his appearance.
"No, sir, Congressman. The Hoynes campaign welcomes everyone's voice." Josh smirked
at Donna again.
"Ah here's the man, himself." Matt noted as John Hoynes joined the group. "Josh was just
telling us that you're in favor of the full field being included in the debate on Thursday."
"Certainly. Every candidate should be heard." John repeated the line Josh had given him
"But if we truly want each candidate to be heard, we should abandon these ridiculous
debate rules and let each candidate take the time they need to answer each question fully
and allow us to ask questions of each other."
Hoynes gave a quick glance to Josh who shrugged. "I have no problem with that. Set it up
with Josh." John advised Matt. Matt immediately cornered Josh and started laying out his
plan for the debate format. Josh knew that he wasn't Matt's real audience. Matt was
playing to the press to not only get included in the debate but have the chance to make a
difference in the debate itself. In the interest of expediency he agreed to all of Matt's
points. It really didn't matter what Josh agreed to, Russell would never go for it.
When Josh was finally able to extricate himself from Matt and the press, he looked for
John Hoynes. His heart beat sped up just a titch when he spotted him in a secluded
corner with Donna. Ignoring 4 different people calling his name he made a beeline for
"…and we've all been impressed with the work you've been doing for Russell. Is there any
way I could persuade you to come on board with the Hoynes campaign?" John grinned
winningly at Donna and Josh felt sick.
"Mr. Vice President, we need you in the suite right away, sir." Josh lied and led Hoynes
away from Donna. Donna was surprised when halfway to the elevator Josh looked back
over his shoulder and sent her what could only be a look of warning. What the hell was
Once they got in the elevator, Hoynes gave Josh a knowing look. "I thought there wasn't
anything between you and Ms. Moss?"
"There isn't." Josh insisted. "That doesn't mean it's a good idea to be chatting her up
alone with you. You have a reputation, sir. Being spotted in a secluded corner with a
young, attractive campaign staffer…not a good idea."
"Always looking out for me aren't you Josh? I just thought a personal word might persuade
her to join our team." Hoynes remarked before striding out of the elevator and going back
to his suite. Josh pursed his lips in thought. Maybe what he said was true; it was possible
it was all an innocent exchange. But something in Josh's gut told him otherwise.
Josh knew he should probably follow Hoynes to the suite and smooth things over, but he
was too tired to deal with it so he returned to the lobby and walked out onto the cold New
Hampshire evening. He had no particular destination in mind so he just wandered down
the block until he heard his name called by Matt Santos.
"Josh, wait up!" Matt caught up to Josh quickly. "Hey. I'm sorry if I blindsided you in there."
Josh waved off the apology. "You could have shut me up at any point or told me 'no' but
you didn't. Thanks for the support."
"Look, it doesn't matter what I agree to, Russell will learn to lay those wooden eggs they're
so fond of around here before he'll willingly agree to an open format with the full field of
candidates." Josh told him. "You've got to find a way to pressure him into it."
Matt laughed. "That's what I'm hearing."
"From who?" Josh asked curiously. If someone else was helping Matt he wanted to know
who it was.
"A pretty blond bird from Russell's camp." Matt admitted.
Josh blinked. Donna? Donna was trying to help Santos? God, will was going to have a
cow. Now Josh laughed.
"I'll be damned." Josh muttered. "So did you and the bird come up with a plan?"
"Not yet, but we're both working on it."
"Have you got anything left in your budget for an ad?" Josh asked and Matt laughed. "Is
that a 'no'?"
"I'm afraid so." Matt agreed.
"Then what you need is some free media."
"Which is what I got tonight with you and Hoynes." Matt noted.
"What you got tonight is maybe an op-ed or two. What I'm talking about is something that
will get played over and over on all the major networks and cable news."
"Sounds good, but how do I manage that?" Matt asked sincerely.
"Got any volunteers?" Josh asked grinning. "Preferably ones that aren't claustrophobic?"
Matt looked puzzled by the requirement, but nodded nonetheless.
"Excellent." Josh replied. "Let's get going then."