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La Palabra

Original Airdate 03-09-05

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Super Tuesday's approaching and Santos, trailing Russell and Hoynes in all the states, must do well in California to stay alive. Still, his cautious reaction to a GOP-passed bill barring illegal immigrants from getting driver's licenses in the Golden State is uncharacteristic. Meanwhile, Donna tries to figure out why Hoynes who's leading in California (and is about to be endorsed by a major Latino group) hasn't gone there to campaign.
From NBC:
Santos (Jimmy Smits) goes to Sacramento for the last few days before Super Tuesday and while he's trying to push his healthcare agenda, the media pressures him to take a stand on California legislation to provide drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. Russell (Gary Cole) decides not to go to California and Hoynes (Tim Matheson) plays his own game of dodging the issue. Donna (Janel Moloney) steps up and takes a more pro-active role in the Russell campaign by becoming the new spokesperson.
From Warner Bros.:
Santos (Jimmy Smits) travels to Sacramento, California, for the last few days before Super Tuesday (a day when a large number of states simultaneously hold their primary elections; the single day when the most nominating delegates can be won). While he's trying to gather support for his healthcare agenda, Santos is pressured by the media to reveal his stand on California legislation that would provide driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Russell (Gary Cole) decides not to go to California, and Hoynes (Tim Matheson) capably dodges the issue. Meanwhile, Donna takes a more proactive role in the Russell campaign by becoming the new spokesperson.


Joshua Malina as Will (William) Bailey Vice President's Campaign Manager
Janel Moloney as Donna (Donnatella) Moss Russell Campaign Staffer
John Spencer as Leo Thomas McGarry Former Chief of Staff
Bradley Whitford as Josh (Joshua) Lyman Santos Campaign Manager
Jimmy Smits as
Matthew Vincente Santos Rep. D-TX
Special Guest Stars    
Gary Cole as Robert "Bingo Bob" Russell Vice President
Teri Polo as Helen Santos Matt Santos' Wife
Tim Matheson as
John Hoynes Former Vice President
Guest Starring    
Ray Wise as Governor Tillman Governor of California
Castulo Guerra as Eddie Garcia La Palabra
Michael Reilly Burke as Bill Brewer Hoynes Issues' Director
Karis Campbell as Ronna (Beckman) Santos' Aide
Matthew Del Negro as Bram (Howard) Santos Campaign Staffer
Larry Cahn as Paul Hickman Santos Campaign Finance Director
Charles Noland as Reporter #1 Steve
Dalia Phillips as Reporter #2  
Tom W. Chick as Reporter #3 Gordon
Christine Avila as Reporter #4  
Randolph Brooks as Reporter #5 Lyle / Arthur Leeds
Ivan Allen as Anchor #1 Roger Salier
Penny Griego as Anchor #3  
Becky Meister as Reporter #6 Sally
Steven Meek as Reporter #7  
Alex Manette as Reporter #8  
John O'Brien as Reporter #9  
John Ross Clark as Businessman Hernia Truss Manufacturer
Darcy Shean as Woman Sue Bowen
Edward Escobar as Man "Lookalike"

Information Links



Imagen Awards

Cited in Best Primetime TV Series, Drama Win
Cited in Best Actor TV Drama Win for
Jimmy Smits

Media Quotes

"What we're hoping to do is give the audience some insight into what the campaign process is about," Smits says.

"Can 'West Wing' build a bridge to the 21st century?"
by Bill Keveney
October 19, 2004
USA Today

Q: Characters on The West Wing are always playing elaborate practical jokes on each other. Is that something that happens on the set, too?

A: Yeah, it definitely does. I'm usually the instigator, and it's usually something sophomoric involving some sort of ointment on someone's trailer door. We did have a really good one on Valentine's Day, though. Janel [Maloney, who plays Donna on the show] and I swiped some of Bradley Whitford's [who portrays Deputy Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman] personal stationery, and then ordered a gigantic bouquet of flowers to be delivered to Jimmy Smits's trailer. We included a note on the stationery that read "Every day on the set with you is a joy. Be My Valentine Brad."

Q: Did Bradley find out what you had done?

A: No, but I think he was pretty surprised when Jimmy came up and gave him a big kiss on the set the next day.

"A West Wing-er's Washington"
by Monica Hesse
March 2005
On Tap

Smits credits Raul Julia and James Earl Jones as the actors who most influenced him in his career. It was "their ethnicity, the ability to break barriers that gave this young actor permission to aspire."

His standing as a minority was something he and "West Wing" creator John Wells discussed when devising the current story arc.

Apparently, the two agreed that television might be a powerful force in reflecting or even fostering the country's readiness to see a minority candidate aim for the highest office.

As a longtime activist in Hispanic causes, Smits said the numbers and the current slate of Hispanic politicians nationally argue in favor of a prominent minority candidate emerging, and soon.

"I don't see a problem with that kind of transition happening in this country." Inevitably Hispanics, African-Americans and women are gaining top positions, he said. "We will probably see a woman candidate in the next major election aspire to a higher office," he said.

"Smits holds big lead in "West Wing" race"
by Joanne Ostrow
March 24, 2005
Denver Post

"I think John [Wells] got what he wanted in terms of going backstage in the (primary) campaign process" this season, he [Jimmy Smits] says.

"'The West Wing' wants you"
by Bill Keveney
April 5, 2005
USA Today

"It's been a civics lesson for me in a lot of ways," Smits says. "I love the research part of this job."

The actor also enjoys the sense of having an impact on important discussions in society at large. A recent "West Wing" story line, he recalls, dealt with the controversial issue of whether illegal immigrants should receive driver's licenses. He recently talked to a California politician who commented on the plotline.

"When you hear that, you feel that besides giving entertainment value, you could affect people in a positive way," he says.

""West Wing" tries to become comeback kid"
by Gloria Goodale
April 6, 2005
Christian Science Monitor

Smits and "West Wing" showrunner John Wells met last year to talk about who Santos was and how the four-time Emmy-winning series would change gears, delving more into the political process of how a candidate navigates the presidential primaries.

"We spent time with the writers and talked about issues that were important to me and were important story ideas for Latinos, like immigration and education," he recalls. "If you have a Latino character from a state or district that has a heavy Latino population, those issues would naturally come up."

"New 'Wing' man ponders presidential politics"
by Stuart Levine
June 10, 2005

About those Valentine flowers ... : Call Smits a sap, but he thought Whitford was being genuine, albeit a little "intimate." He wasn't clued in for nine months. "I think that's what really got me hot under the collar," Smits says. "We're all working together and it takes nine months to admit it? But they were great flowers."

May 14, 2006
Washington Post

For more information about this episode:
Continuity Guide to "The West Wing"
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