Wade D. Roberts strode to the podium which was the focal point of the crowded auditorium, and of America of the moment. As stipulated by the three-way contract, the two flanking podiums remained unmanned for several moments more, as if the New America Party candidate had arrived on the wrong night.
On the right night and at the right moment for Wade's purposes, his two opponents emerged from opposite ends of the stage with their parting backwall panels, the President of the United States and his Democratic challenger wearing the respective suit and pantsuit dictated by the latest polling.
The crowd had held back on Wade, but now mostly erupted into applause at the arrival of their favorites.
President Robert Inman Perry, formerly of South Carolina, threw out a confident, manly smile and wave as he walked tall and stood tall. Octavia Hannah Wakeland strode in at the same moment as the sitting President from the audience's left, and her manner during approach and upon arrival was remarkably similar to Perry's. At this event she did not need to acknowledge for the cameras a supporter who did not exist, but instead could blow a playful kiss to a prospective First Husband perfectly positioned in the crowd (Perry had merely winked at the First Lady, while the camera was on him).
Wade was even more subtle, waiting until the cameras were off him to smile at his fiancée, the mother of one who had insisted the former defense attorney defend his marriage proposal, while still on a single knee, as not being a play for the American voter. She smiled back, gave him a wave that was returned, and that was what a camera caught as the television network American National Broadcasting rolled into the second debate of the 2020 Presidential election.