Election Day: Part 2 - According to Lawrence O'DonnellLawrence O'Donnell, he and the other writers intended for Arnold Vinick to win the election, but changed the result after the death of John SpencerJohn Spencer, as they felt that would be too emotionally taxing for the viewers for Santos to lose both his running mate and the election. However, this has been disputed by other writers, who claim that their intention even before Spencer passed away was for Santos to win.
Running Mates - This was the first episode to air shortly after the death of John SpencerJohn Spencer. It began with a brief memorial presented by Martin SheenMartin Sheen to honor his cast mate and his friend.
Tomorrow - Aaron SorkinAaron Sorkin has a cameo as one of the White House aides sitting in the stands in the Inauguration scene.
Tomorrow - As the Bartlets prepare to return to "normal" life, Abby asks President Bartlet "When's the last time you drove a car?" to which he replies "It's just like riding a bike, except with more horsepower, right?" The very first episode of "The West Wing" opened with the staff having to react to news of President Bartlet falling off a bicycle.
Transition - The exterior of the hotel where the Santoses are staying is the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City (as can be seen above the door). Though it was originally the Hotel Utah, it is now an administrative building and library owned by the Mormon Church.
The Cold - John SpencerJohn Spencer's final appearance is in this episode (Leo McGarry) before he unexpectedly died of a heart attack at the age of 59. His character's sudden passing was dealt with in the episodes The West Wing: Election Day: Part 1 (2006) and The West Wing: Election Day: Part 2 (2006).
The Debate - This is the only episode of the series in which none of the original main cast appeared.
The Debate - Congressman Santos's defense of the term "liberal" is a paraphrase of Kennedy's 1960 NY acceptance speech.
The Debate - The Debate was advertised as a "live presidential debate" and was actually telecast live twice, once for the East and West coasts, with limited commercial interruption. It was also one of the few times actors were allowed to go "off script."
Message of the Week - Ron SilverRon Silver, who played Bruno Gianelli, was a long-time Democrat. He switched sides and actually spoke at the 2004 RNC, mimicking his character (Bruno Gianelli), who switched sides from working with the Democratic Bartlett White House to working with the Presidential Republican Arnold Vinick Campaign.
Message of the Week - Arnold Vinick states that he is not a veteran of a foreign war. Alan AldaAlan Alda, who actually did serve in the military, including a tour in Korea, is best known for playing Captain Hawkeye Pierce on the show [M*A*S*H].
The Ticket - A reporter asks Leo McGarry about his cardiac health, which he says is fine. Sadly and ironically, the actor, John SpencerJohn Spencer would die from a massive heart attack less than three months after this episode aired.
Here Today - Richard SchiffRichard Schiff disliked the shuttle leak story-line, as he felt that Toby would never betray the President in such a fashion. He justified the story by deciding that Toby was really covering for someone else.
Message of the Week - This episode aired in 2005... Just 4 years before Ron SilverRon Silver's death to esophageal cancer.
Tomorrow - The final paragraph ends with 'In this District of Columbia, on this twentieth day of January, in the year of Our Lord.'. The year is missing to help keep the continuation of this fictional presidency 'correct' right up to the end of this episode, the last ever in the series.
Four days after the Democratic convention, Josh begins to staff up the Santos campaign. With Santos and Leo effectively strangers - and Leo not an experienced campaigner - adjustments of roles and responsibilities are required in order to deliver a strong and consistent message. The White House prepares to launch the military Space Shuttle on its rescue mission to the Space Station amidst growing suspicion that proof of its existence was deliberately leaked by someone in the Administration. The Republicans offer Bartlet a concession on an education bill.
Despite vigorous campaigning, the Santos campaign still struggles to articulate its message and keep the focus on domestic issues rather than gossip and trivia. Although Santos served decades in the military and remains in the reserves, Vinick still appears the stronger candidate on national security issues due to stereotypes about Republicans and Democrats. The White House's decision to halt their own investigation into the leak is a savvy legal move, however it could prove to be costly politically: Vinick can slam the President for this decision.
With Santos gaining momentum, the Vinick campaign devises a strategy to catch them off-guard by focusing on immigration issues: by taking a pro-immigration stance, they force Santos to spend time courting the Latino vote. A powerful Christian group is nervous about supporting a Republican presidential candidate who is pro-choice, and demands a guarantee that Vinick only appoint pro-life judges. Vinick hopes that the strong religious credentials of his running mate Sullivan will be enough to satisfy the Christian base.
The Santos campaign faces questions on intelligent design and evolution during a campaign stop focusing on education in Pennsylvania. Margaret testifies before the committee investigating the leak, which has also served most current and former members of the Bartlet administration with subpoenas. A suicide bombing in the Middle East throws the region into chaos and threatens to postpone all campaigning. An intelligence analyst assigned to brief the Vinick campaign demands to speak with CJ.
A pro-life special interest group launches an ad attacking Santos for his abortion stance, but Vinick also sees it as trouble since he's also pro-choice and doesn't want to draw attention to the issue. With Vinick ahead in the polls, he has no incentive to debate Santos and thus continues to drag his feet over negotiations. Back at the White House, C.J. orders new Communications Director Will Bailey to not answer questions from the press about the leak investigation.
The Santos campaign's difficulties with the black community continue when a Latino police officer shoots a black child; C.J. offloads preparations for Ellie's wedding to Will when Kate needs her help with Kazakhstan; Josh visits Toby.
President Bartlet's plan to attend his daughter Ellie's White House wedding is jeopardized when Russia and China mobilize troops over growing chaos in Kazakhstan. The Santos campaign has gained ground on Vinick over the last few weeks, but with less than two months until the election it's not clear that the gap can be closed. As Josh obsesses over the electoral math, tracking polls, and decisions on where to spend advertising money, some Democrats are nervous that the election is slipping away, and urge Santos to fire Josh as campaign manager.
Danny tells C.J. some important news about the President's son-in-law over dinner; C.J. attempts to broker an international deal to stop genocide in Darfur; Josh twists C.J.'s arm to get her to help the Santos campaign.
THE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENT-ELECT SEE FOREIGN POLICY DIFFERENTLY - Eyebrows are raised when the President-elect places a call to the president of China and offers a different position than that of Bartlet. Meanwhile, Josh picks his deputy chief of staff.
BEING PRESIDENT CAN BE HARD ON THE FAMILY - While Santos is wrapped up in choosing his new Vice President, Helen is overwhelmed by the issues facing the new First Family. Meanwhile, Vinick must find a new road now that the election is over.
Two weeks before the inauguration, CJ and the rest of the Bartlett administration consider what they will do next. CJ examines her relationship with Danny and considers whether or not to suggest to the President pardoning Toby.