The Contender (film)

2000 film by Rod Lurie

The Contender is a 2000 film about a woman whose past is investigated during confirmation hearings after she is nominated to become Vice President after the incumbent dies.

Written and directed by Rod Lurie.
Sometimes you can assassinate a leader without firing a shot. (taglines)

Laine Hanson

  • Principles only mean something if you stick by them when they're inconvenient.
  • [closing remarks at Congressional confirmation hearing] Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen of the committee. Remarkably enough, it seems that I have some explaining to do. So, let me be absolutely clear. I stand for a woman's right to choose. I stand for the elimination of the death penalty. I stand for a strong and growing armed forces because we must stomp out genocide on this planet, and I believe that that is a cause worth dying for. I stand for seeing every gun taken out of every home, period. I stand for making the selling of cigarettes to our youth a federal offense. I stand for term limits and campaign reform. And, Mr. Chairman, I stand for the separation of church and state, and the reason that I stand for that is the same reason that I believe our forefathers did. It is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government, but to protect our government from the grasp of religious fanaticism. I may be an atheist, but that does not mean I do not go to church. I do go to church. The church I go to is the one that emancipated the slaves, that gave women the right to vote, that gave us every freedom that we hold dear. My church is this very chapel of Democracy that we sit in together, and I do not need God to tell me what are my moral absolutes. I need my heart, my brain, and this church.

President Jackson Evans

  • [after missing a shot while bowling] Well, that's what I get for my Leftist tendencies.
  • [to Gov. Hathaway] You're the future of the Democratic party. And you always will be.
  • I'll die before Shelly Runyon checkmates me.
  • [to Gov. Hathaway] Who doesn't want a shortcut to greatness?
  • [about Rep. Reginald Webster] Well, he may not know his right from his left, but he does know the difference between right and wrong.
  • [addressing the Congress] Thank you. Napoleon once said when asked to explain the lack of great statesmen in the world, that 'to get power, you need to display absolute pettiness. To exercise power, you need to show true greatness.' Such pettiness and such greatness are rarely found in one person. I look upon the events of the past weeks and I've never come so to grips with that quotation. So, ladies and gentlemen of this Congress, it pains my soul to tell you that you have brought blood and shame under this great dome. Your leadership has raised the stakes of hate to a level where we can no longer separate the demagogue from the truly inspired. And believe this, there are traitors among us. And I'm not talking about those of you who sided against your party leadership. I'm talking about those of you who were patriots to your party but traitors to the necessary end result: That of righteousness, the truth, the concept of making the American dream blind to gender. And you know, I am not free of blame. Right from the start, I should've come down here, pointed a finger your way - pointed a finger your way [pointing at Runyon], and asked you, 'Have you no decency, sir?' Yesterday, I met [he notices Runyon exiting] - Mr. Runyon, you may walk out on me, you may walk out on this body, but you cannot walk out on the will of the American people. Americans are a good people. They're a just people, Mr. Runyon, and they will forgive you, but they will not forget. Hate and ego have no place residing in what my good friend Laine Hanson calls the chapel of democracy.

So, let me make one thing clear. You come at us with whatever weapons that you have in your arsenal, but there is no weapon as powerful as that of an idea whose time has come. A woman will serve in the highest level of the Executive. Simple as that! Yesterday, I spoke with Laine Hanson. I told her that she could decide her own destiny. If she wanted to continue her fight for confirmation that I would stand beside her. She has asked me to allow her to step aside. She told me that she wanted my administration to end on a note of triumph and not controversy. Understand, those of you who worked to bring Laine Hanson down, that she asked to have her name withdrawn from consideration, not because she isn't great, but because she isn't petty. Because those two conflicting leadership traits could not live as one within her body or her soul. Greatness. It comes in many forms. Sometimes, it comes in the form of sacrifice. That's the loneliest form.

Now, it turns out that Laine Hanson is a woman, an American of devout principle and she has inspired me to act alike, and I cannot accept Senator Hanson's withdrawal. And I'm now calling for an immediate vote of confirmation of Laine Hanson. And, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make this a live roll call. I want to see the faces of those of you who would eliminate the possibility of greatness in American leadership because of half-truths, lies, and innuendoes. I will not be deterred by partisanship. I will not be deterred by misogyny. I will not be deterred by hate. You have now come face-to-face with my will. Confirm my nominee, heal this nation, and let the American people explode into this new millennium with the exhilaration of being true to the glory of this democracy. Thank you.

  • I should have come down here and pointed my finger your way... [points at Rep. Shelley Runyon] ... pointed my finger YOUR way, and asked "Have you no decency, sir?"

Shelly Runyon

  • [to President Jackson Evans] We're both sticking to our guns. The difference is, mine are loaded.
  • Take a magic marker, cross out the word "objectivity". Your constituents want you for your opinions, your philosophy, for your subjectivity.

Kermit Newman

  • The people of this nation can stomach quite a bit. But the one thing they can't stomach is the image of a vice president with a mouthful of cock.
  • [Trying to dig up dirt on Shelly Runyon] I want something EMBARRASSING! Something sexual! Little boys, midgets, that sort of thing! Cows! I don't give a goddamn!


Shelly Runyon: So, how are Will and the boy?
Laine Hanson: Let's forego the small talk today Shelly, I'm not in the mood.
Shelly Runyon: Let the big talk begin.

Laine Hanson: It seems to me that all you can claim about me — claim — is that I had sex.
Shelly Runyon: Deviant sex.
Laine Hanson: Oh, deviant? Who says it was deviant?
Shelly Runyon: I do. What I say the American people will believe. And do you know why? Because I will have a very big microphone in front of me.

Shelly Runyon: Greatness is the orphan of urgency, Laine. Greatness only emerges when we need it most... in time of war or calamity. I can't ask somebody to be a Kennedy or a Lincoln. They were men created by their times. What I... What I can ask for... is the promise of greatness. And that, Madam Senator... you don't have.
Laine Hanson: Well, then... I just wouldn't be using sex as leverage... if I were you, Sheldon. Because, you know, there's one thing you don't want. It's a woman with her finger on the button who isn't getting laid.

Laine Hanson: Come on, Kermit. If we do that, we are no better than he is.
Kermit Newman: We are no better than he is!

Shelly Runyon: There's a reason they call me Honest Shell.
President Jackson Evans: Irony, Shelly.

President Jackson Evans: [outside the White House, walking away from the party] Well can I tell you I'm just bustin' to know what really happened?
Laine Hanson: You mean, this would just be between Laine and the President?
President Jackson Evans: I'll go one better. This will be between Laine and Jackson.


  • Sometimes you can assassinate a leader without firing a shot.
  • Welcome To The Greatest Show On Earth


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