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Running Mates

Original Airdate 01-08-06

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As the staff anxiously prepares Leo for the vice-presidential debate, word gets out to the press and Internet bloggers that his debating skills are weak and that he's unfocused. Meanwhile, Santos and Helen learn to cope with new security barriers around their house.
From NBC:
Leo (John Spencer) struggles through debate practice and makes Josh (Brad Whitford) and Lou (Janeane Garofalo) extremely nervous. Meanwhile, Santos (Jimmy Smits) gets a brief respite from the campaign trail to see his family.


Kristin Chenoweth as Annabeth Schott Santos / McGarry Campaign Staffer
Joshua Malina as Will (William) Bailey Communications Director
Mary McCormack as Kate (Katherine) Harper Deputy National Security Advisor
Janel Moloney as Donna (Donnatella) Moss Santos / McGarry Campaign Staffer
John Spencer as Leo Thomas McGarry Democratic Candidate for Vice President
Bradley Whitford as Josh (Joshua) Lyman Santos Campaign Manager
Jimmy Smits as
Matthew Vincente Santos Democratic Candidate for President
Special Guest Stars    
Janeane Garofalo as Louise "Lou" Thornton Media Consultant
Teri Polo as Helen Santos Matt Santos' Wife
Patricia Richardson as Sheila Brooks Vinick Campaign Manager
Guest Starring    
Brett Cullen as Ray Sullivan Republican Candidate for Vice President
Stephen Root as Bob Mayer Vinick Speechwriter
David Barrera as Jorge Santos Santos' Brother
Ramón De Ocampo as Otto Santos / McGarry Campaign Staffer
Matthew Del Negro as Bram (Howard) Santos / McGarry Campaign Staffer
Karis Campbell as Ronna (Beckman) Santos' Aide
Joshua Cabrera as Peter Santos Santos' Son
Ashlyn Sanchez as Miranda Santos Santos' Daugther
Amad Jackson as Agent  
Charles Noland as Steve Reporter
Caroline Duncan as Jane Reporter
David A. Kimball as Moderator  
Elizabeth Penn Payne as Pundit #1  

Information Links


Media Quotes

Spencer appeared in seven of the 14 episodes that have been filmed, nine of which have been broadcast.

"How series deal with death"
by William Keck
December 18, 2005
USA Today

My faith in The West Wing to do the right thing was bolstered by Sunday's (Jan. 8) terrific episode, which by eerie but satisfying happenstance focused on Leo's character as he prepared for a vice-presidential debate, ultimately exceeding everyone's (including his own) low expectations. In a special introduction, Martin Sheen praised his colleague and friend, noting that the best tribute to a character actor like John Spencer is the opportunity to watch and appreciate his final months of work.

This "Running Mates" episode was one of Spencer's best in a long time, as he sparred with his handlers, most notably Kristin Chenoweth as perky Annabeth. "What my life has come to... " Leo growled as Annabeth literally tried to wipe the smirk off his face, forcing his lips into a scowl. "You seem to have graduated from cudgel to bludgeon," he snarled, albeit affectionately.

Even if (like me) you predicted that Leo was the one leaking news of his dreadful debate rehearsals to the blogosphere, it was great fun admiring his caginess.

And in the episode's most unnerving sequence, you couldn't help flinch when he was asked a question about his own medical condition. He turned it into an attack on Republican health care, starting with the blunt acknowledgment: "By an overwhelming percentage, the first warning symptom of a heart attack is death."

A more timid show might have squelched this sadly prophetic exchange. But I'm betting John Spencer would have relished the irony.

Just as Leo McGarry proved to be a formidable candidate to the end, so did John Spencer always deliver the goods, even when the show itself left a lot to be desired.

He'll be missed, for sure " but more important, thanks to episodes like this, he'll be remembered.

by Matt Roush
January 9, 2006
TV Guide Online

TV president Martin Sheen tugged at America's heartstrings on Sunday night when he paid a personal tribute to late The West Wing co-star John Spencer at the beginning of the new season of the political drama.

The new season of the show will begin with Spencer's final episodes. The actor died of a heart attack on 16 December.

Sheen, who plays President Josh Bartlett on the hit show, took a moment to remember his pal, stating, "Good evening. On December 16 we lost our good friend and colleague John Spencer.

"Through our shock and grief, we can think of no more fitting memorial to this wonderful man, this extraordinary actor, than to share with you, beginning tonight, the last few months of his work here on The West Wing.

"Johnny, it seems we hardly knew you, we love you and we miss you."

"President Sheen pays tribute to late co-star Spencer"
January 10, 2006

At a press conference, Executive Producer John Wells said the mid-December death of series regular John Spencer briefly led to a discussion of whether it was appropriate to continue the series without him, and whether the three filmed episodes he was featured in prominently had to be re-shot.

"The conclusion we came to was John was so wonderful in the episodes that the best homage we could make to his contribution was to let people see the last days of his work," said Wells. "We did not change or edit a single thing."

"'West Wing' deals with its final days"
by Alan Pergament
January 25, 2006
Buffalo News

Executive producer John Wells said there was a brief debate among producers about editing out some of the scenes Spencer filmed before his death.

"We decided to leave his marvelous acting work untouched," Wells said.

"If you knew John, I think he would have been upset with me if we had actually changed scenes. Like, 'What! You're cutting my scenes, kid? What are you doing that for?' "

"Spencer will be missed; his final scenes won't be"
by Dusty Saunders
January 28, 2006
Rocky Mountain News

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