Wade, in the middle, was above the ANB twenty-slash-twenty logo on the screen that night, even though he had not participated in the first debate and there were no plans at that moment to allow him into the third and final event. But he and his staff had watched that first debate live from his home in Sedona, Arizona, and now the candidate smiled confidently for his future stepdaughter staring at that same television screen, confident that he was perfectly positioned.
That second debate began with a question about the economy, or rather, the lack of a functioning one, when the moderator Carter Andrews asked, "Mister Roberts, now that the American economy has experienced seven consecutive quarters of economic contraction, much of that contraction severe, what would you, as President, do about our situation?"
Wade looked directly at the camera, like a man trying to remember his rehearsed lines, then slowed into a smile that let the audience in on the inside joke.
"I would do what needs to be done."
There were several snickers in the audience, and not just because the debate series was sponsored by a candy bar company that year, but then Wade elaborated. "This is all a result of the Old Way of doing things. Old energy, old laws, old systems." Pause. "Old faces. We've been saying for going on centuries that we need constant change, but the voters never work up the courage."
Andrews swiveled in the silence to the left. "Senator Wakeland, what would you do as President?"