INT. WHITE HOUSE CABINET ROOM - DAY [SILENT]
Six men are seated on one side of a long table, talking among themselves, smoking and reading from briefing books.
WRITTEN WORDS (crawl) In 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy won
election as president by the smallest margin in history against the much more experienced Republican, Vice President Richard Nixon.
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON enters the room and everyone stands. Nixon, 49, looks young and vigorous. His jet-black hair is thick and wavy.
WRITTEN WORDS (crawl cont’d) Two years later the world stood at
the brink of Armageddon when the U.S. discovered the Soviet Union building a secret nuclear missile base in Cuba. President Kennedy negotiated a peaceful conclusion to crisis, narrowly averting atomic war.
President Nixon takes his seat across the table from the other men.
WRITTEN WORDS (crawl cont’d) Allegations of rampant vote
rigging cast a permanent shadow over the 1960 election and it may be that Nixon, not Kennedy, was the true winner. (end crawl)
Normal SOUND RESUMES.
PRESIDENT NIXON For those joining us for the first time today who have not been fully
briefed on the Cuba situation, I’ve asked the Defense Secretary to provide a brief overview. Tom?
SUPERIMPOSE: WHITE HOUSE CABINET ROOM, OCTOBER 20, 1962
Nixon gives an awkward half smile and gestures to Secretary of Defense THOMAS GATES, 56, a tall Philadelphia patrician.
THOMAS GATES (CONT’D) On 15 October, U.S. air assets
conducting surveillance over Cuba photographed what CIA analysts have conclusively determined to be Soviet medium-range ballistic missiles. Four to five of these MRBM sites are under construction, with four launchers at each site and more on the way.
Attorney General LEN HALL, 62, a balding, round-faced man with a hefty second chin, raises his hand slightly, but does not wait to be recognized.
LEN HALL The missiles are arriving by ship?
THOMAS GATES That’s right, Mr. Attorney
General. These MRBMs carry nuclear warheads of up to 700 kilotons—35 times larger than the bombs dropped on Japan—and can travel in excess of 1,000 nautical miles, as you can see on this map.
Gates points to a map of the Western Hemisphere on an easel. It has a large circle, with Cuba at its center.
THOMAS GATES (CONT’D) The circle there, that shows the
range of the MRBMs. The circle’s arc spans from Texas to the East Coast.
THOMAS GATES (CONT’D) That puts them in striking
distance of cities in the southeastern United States, including Washington. Total population, 92 million.
LEN HALL (under his breath)
CIA Director ALLEN DULLES, 69, burly, barrel-chested and suffering chronic gout, slides arial photos of the missiles down the table to Hall.
ALLEN DULLES I’m afraid they’re the real McCoy,
Len. The good news is they don’t know we’re on to their game.
PRESIDENT NIXON Here’s what we’ve worked out, Len.
Tomorrow night I’ll go on nationwide television to announce that we’ve discovered these missiles and the Air Force has begun a bombing campaign to destroy the sites. In five days we’ll begin a general invasion of Cuba.
LEN HALL Won’t that lead to war with the
Soviet Union? Hall looks beseechingly around the room.
LEN HALL (CONT’D) A nuclear war?
PRESIDENT NIXON Khrushchev won’t start a nuclear
war over Cuba, Len.
EXT. LOS ANGELES STREET - OCTOBER 20, 1962 - DAY
A small crowd is gathered on a downtown sidewalk by a store window with a t.v. tuned to a newscast, audible but indistinct to us on an outdoor speaker.
SUPERIMPOSE: LOS ANGELES, OCTOBER 20, 1962
INT. LINCOLN LIMOUSINE - DAY [CONTINUOUS]
In the backseat, the First Lady, PAT NIXON, 50, watches the crowd. She snuffs out her cigarette in the door-handle ashtray and leans towards the driver, JOE.
PAT NIXON What’s going on out there, Joe?
JOE I don’t know, ma’am. But maybe I
can find out something on the radio.
Joe turns the radio dial. We hear random lyrics from popular songs until a male RADIO VOICE speaks.
RADIO VOICE There are unconfirmed reports of
troop movements that could indicate a development in...
Pat holds her hands over her ears.
INT. WHITE HOUSE RESIDENCE - NIGHT - PAST Pat sits on the edge of her bed, phone in hand.
PRESIDENT NIXON (V.O.) And I don’t want you reading the newspapers while you’re away. Is
that clear? No sense getting upset over things you can’t control.
INT. LINCOLN LIMOUSINE - DAY - PRESENT
PAT NIXON (sharply, voice rising)
Turn it off, Joe. Turn it off. Joe switches off the radio.