The debate scene from “Gerri”, based on the novel, “DNC Chairman; A Scripted Novel”, 2007:

INT – DODDS AUDITORIUM, PRINCETON  NIGHT

 

PAN on audience. There is palpable tension in the room. Katie Couric is sitting at the moderator’s desk.

 

COURIC

Good evening and welcome to the

final Presidential Debate live

from Princeton University. Tonight,

the candidates have requested to

dispense with time limits and have

a conversational style. Tonight’s

questions have also been derived

from a mixed group of sources.

Welcome, candidates. I’d like to

remind you that you have requested

a friendly dialogue so therefore

please try to respect each other

and not talk too long.

 

Blik and Gerri nod assent.

 

COURIC

The first question tonight is from

YouTube.

 

INSERT – VIDEO SCREEN: ENRIQUE ROLADO, A SEMI-ELDERLY THIN MAN DRESSED IN A SUIT AND TIE.

 

ROLADO IN VIDEO

(in Spanish; no titles; filtered)

This question is for Senator Blik.

My name is Enrique Rolado and I am

From Ecuador. My brother Amador has

lymphoma. He went to a hospital in

the United States for the

treatment. The doctor said that he

needs a transplant. But the U.S.

government will not allow it since

we are not citizens. If I can

donate my cells, I can save his

life. What will you do you as

President to save my brother’s

life?

 

COURIC

(looking flustered)

I’m sorry, I don’t know how that

got in there. Let’s move on to

another question. I’m very sorry.

 

GERRI

I’m sorry to interrupt, but do you

mean to tell me there isn’t a

single speaker of Spanish present

here who can translate?

 

COURIC

Well, actually…

 

She is interrupted by AN AIDE who leans in her ear.

 

AIDE

(virtually whispering)

I have Governor Parker on the     line.

He says he can translate. I can

patch him through.

 

COURIC

(face really flushed)

We have Governor Parker on the

phone who offers to translate.

 

BLIK

Isn’t that off protocol?

116

PARKER (v.o.)

Don’t worry, I’m just going to

translate. The questioner has a

brother who went to a hospital here

in the U.S. because he has

lymphoma. His brother can save his

life as a stem cell donor but the

USCIS won’t allow him to come here

because he’s not a U.S. citizen.

He specifically asks you, Senator

Blik, what you will do as President

to save his brother’s life.

 

BLIK

First of all, with all due respect

to the questioner, I find it

curious that, with the time for

this debate so limited, shouldn’t

we be restricting the questions to

American citizens?__

 

GERRI

John, if you want to say you would

let a man die because he’s not an

American citizen, just say so.

 

BLIK

I think it needs to be made clear

who would be paying for this man’s

operation. It would be the

American people who would shoulder

the bill. Don’t forget, these are

people who don’t pay taxes and who

already live here at the expense

of the you, the taxpayer.

 

 

117

GERRI

Oh, but you have no problem saving

lives overseas in a war at the huge

expense of the taxpayer.

 

BLIK

That war is saving American lives

back here at home.

 

GERRI

Oh, I’m sorry, of course. This

was never about saving Iraqi lives.

Which, I suppose, makes more sense,

seeing how many of them have been

destroyed.

 

Maybe put in part between the two +++’s

 

COURIC

(interrupting)

I’m sorry, let’s move on.

 

BLIK

Excuse me, Katie, if I may just

have a second to respond.

 

COURIC

Sure, Senator.

 

BLIK

This is another example of that

pathetic bending over backwards

and apologizing that the Democrats

love to do. We’re saving American

lives from terrorists who want us

dead. We don’t have to defend that

policy. Thank you.

 

 

118

COURIC

Okay, moving on. Next is a question

from our live audience, from Peggy

Sharp of Valhalla, New York.

 

PEGGY, a young woman in the front row stands up.

 

PEGGY

Thank you. This question is for

Senator Harrison. You have said

several times in your campaign that

if you are elected things will not

get magically better, in fact that

they’ll even get worse. Would you

please explain?

 

GERRI

All right. Think back to how

things were when this Republican

government came into power seven or

eight years ago. We enjoyed the

greatest economic boom in our

history. And that didn’t just

disappear with a change of office.

Now look at the present. When I

take office, these problems are not

going to magically disappear. It

will take a lot of hard work and
time. And it will require each of

us to be part of the solution.

This nation has progressed the most

when Americans were optimistic.

When we pioneered the frontiers and

settled new land. When we built new

technologies and brought in an

economic boom. When we were happy

to be working and contributing to

(MORE)                       119

GERRI (cont.)

our nation’s prosperity. When it

wasn’t just about me but about us,

the two letters that spell U-S. It

was when it was about working

together and for each other. Those

men did not freeze in the winter

snow at Valley Forge for their own

personal gain but because they had

a larger vision in mind, the

freedom and prosperity of their

fellow citizens.

 

COURIC

Thank you. Let’s give Senator

Blik a chance to respond.

 

BLIK

Thank you, Katie.  I’ll try to keep

it simple. I’m not going to go into

a big explanation. Again, my

opponent wants to make you feel bad

for wanting to take care of

yourself or your family, as though

your obligation to someone you’ve

never met is more important than to

your own children and loved ones. I

think you ought to be proud to be

out for yourself and not feel the

least bit of guilt. That’s what

America was built for. We don’t

lean on anyone. That’s the

responsibility that truly comes

with freedom.

 

COURIC

Thank you, Senator. This next

(MORE)                       120

COURIC (cont.)

question was submitted by email.

It’s from Fred Grogan of     Pierre,

South Dakota. He writes,     quote,

“I’ve been listening to the two of

you go back and forth and you’ve

both stated your positions clearly.

But what worries me is how decisive

either of you will be when the real

crisis hits. What can you both tell

me to assure me that you really are

ready for this unbelievably tough

challenge you want to take on?

 

Silence, at first, then they both try to speak at once, Blik winning out.

 

BLIK

You can’t tell how ready a person

will be for anything until it’s

upon him. But you can get an idea

about a person’s ability to take

swift action by observing his or

her resoluteness about his or her

ideas, about the consistency of

his or her statements, the

straightforwardness and simplicity

with which he or she answers a

question. These are all cues.

You’re right. Decisive action in a

single moment is an absolute

requisite for this job, before

politics or ideology.

 

GERRI

The right action. It’s not just

about taking action that looks like

(MORE)                       121

GERRI (cont.)

you’ve got it together when in

fact, you have no idea what you’re

doing.

 

BLIK

Which you would be an expert in.

 

The ensuing dialogue gets more and more heated and sounding like an angry couple having an argument or a fight as they continue. They often talk over each other.

 

GERRI

John, I’ve been through a bitter

fight during the primaries that

almost cost me a trusted

friendship, a key level staff

shakeup, the discovery less than

two months before the election that

my husband cheated on me with     a

teenager, then to have my campaign

manager and close friend     hit by a

drunk driver and lie comatose in

the hospital…

 

BLIK

(interrupting)

Didn’t you say that stuff was

unimportant to you because the

issues concerning the American

people are what matter?

 

GERRI

There you go again totally twisting

the real issue out of context to

make me look like I’m contradicting

myself when in fact the point is

(MORE)                       122

GERRI (cont.)

that I’ve been assaulted by all

these very real blows to my person,

and yet I have pressed on with my

campaign.

 

BLIK

Well, of course you will. Who

doesn’t want the big prize?

 

GERRI

Oh! The Presidency is no more than

a big prize to you!

 

BLIK

You’re the one trying to look like

a hero. You’re trying to use this

to get the people to vote for you

because they feel sorry for you.

 

GERRI

You mean all of a sudden I have to

act like a martyr simply because

I’m running for President?

 

BLIK

Well, that caller did say he

wanted the assurance that the

person he sends to the White House

would be a person of great

character and ability.

 

GERRI

You mean emailer.

 

BLIK

Fine. The point is, you won’t have

(MORE)                       123

BLIK (cont.)

time for personal tragedy once

you’re elected. The President of

Iran isn’t going to not send a

long-range missile to wipe out one

or more of our cities because he

feels sorry that the President of

the United States’ husband cheated

on her. And the fact that you did

not have the sense to keep your

campaign manager from being behind

the wheel when he was in no

condition to drive doesn’t give

anyone the confidence that you’ll

handle our military affairs

competently either.

 

GERRI

The fact that I know how to talk

to and believe in talking to

people effectively is what will

make the leader of Iran not send

a long-range missile here.

 

BLIK

Somebody pinch me, I must be

dreaming.

 

GERRI

And the fact that I put protecting

and saving life before all other

concerns is what will make me a

much more effective commander-in

chief than someone who is trigger

happy and is ready to start a war

just to appear tough, even though

that might plunge this nation and

(MORE)                       124

GERRI (cont.)

world into one of the greatest

tragedies that ever happened.

 

BLIK

If you’re so good at protecting

life, then why did you let Mr.

Greenbaum get in his car that

night in his condition?

 

GERRI

That’s…you know, that’s not even

worth a response. How dumb do you

think the American people are to

not be able to separate a

commitment to protecting life and

an accident that could have

happened to anyone?

 

BLIK

Oh, excuse me. President Harrison

has a commitment to protect life,

so don’t worry. That long range

missile that just took out Detroit

was just an accident.

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