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Backstage with Mitt and Newt

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Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney image

Just before the January 23 Republican debate, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney encountered one another at a deli tray just off-stage. What follows is a transcript of that meeting:

Newt eats turkey cold cuts. Mitt approaches, grabs a Pellegrino. They realize they're alone and next to each other. Awkward moment.

NEWT:...How many more of these, right?

[Silence as Newt eats. Mitt looks at watch. Finally...]

NEWT: Ya know, one of us is going to get this nomination.

MITT: ...Yup.

NEWT: I mean, one of us will actually...be the Republican nominee. [A moment, curious.] ...Have you thought about what you might do if you didn't win?

[The two look at each other, studying.]

MITT: Naw. ...I mean, a little maybe. [Mitt thinks.] ...One time I went to the Bahamas by myself.

NEWT: Really?

MITT: I was young. Cashed my whole paycheck without a thought. Beach all day, blackjack all night. [Back to reality.] But...that's nothing compared to public service.

NEWT: Yeah. [Newt gets lost in thought.] I was in Belize years ago. Scuba-dived in a barrier reef. Caught my supper. Bottle-nursed an orphaned spider-monkey. [Realizing.] But...going door-to-door in New Hampshire in January...that's good too.

[Mitt takes a cold cut after all. The two men lean against the table, looking out.]

MITT: In college, I went whitewater rafting through the Grand Canyon. I met a Hopi Indian girl named Hehewuti. I had to conquer her father in traditional feats of strength in order to copulate with her. Hehewuti and I then made passionate love and bathed each other in cactus nectar beneath the moonlight. ...That was a good day. [Straightening.] But, I mean, that doesn't beat, like, side-stepping real campaign issues to trade useless barbs and talking points with you guys twice a week, does it?

NEWT: Are you asking?

MITT: No, I'm being rhetorical.

[But they both clearly continue to consider.]

NEWT: ...The year was 1999. I had resigned from Congress —

MITT: — Because of 84 ethical charges —

NEWT: [defensive] —Most were dismissed. Anyway, I just got in a car and drove. Road the rail with hobos. Got in a fist-fight with Norman Mailer. Was a roadie for Widespread. Then I went on a four-day, sex-filled mescaline-binge with the brunette from the Dixie Chicks. ...Freedom. [Trying to be cheerful.] ...Buuuut spending 20 minutes talking to some inbred Nevadan only to find out that he's listening because he thinks I'm former Cowboys coach Wade Phillips...I mean...[seething]...that's why I'm here.

[Mitt stands, fed up.]

MITT: I used to have a life, Newt! I don't want to be president.

NEWT: Of course you don't! It's terrible out there! I just wanted a Fox talk show.

MITT: Me too! But then you're winning, and suddenly you're strapped to a rocket, and you realize, "If I wanted to get off, I should've said something earlier!"

NEWT: [shaking head] I don't have a chance in a national election. I mean, you probably don't either, but I mean, I don't have a CHANCE.

[Both men lean back again, sigh. A WOMAN approaches.]

WOMAN: They're ready for you gentlemen.

[Mitt and Newt look at each other. They sigh.]

NEWT: Welp...here we go again. What's up for tonight?

MITT: (lifeless) I'm gonna hammer you on getting paid by health care companies.

NEWT: 'K. I'm probably just going to call you a pederast and see if it sticks.

[They smile grudgingly, do the fist-bump/explosion in unison, then head onto stage.]

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