Synopsis by Josh Ralske
A Perfect Candidate documents the 1994 Virginia senate campaign of Oliver North. Filmmakers R.J. Cutler (The War Room) and David Van Taylor (Dream Deceivers) take a look at North and his main opponent, Chuck Robb, but focus most of their attention on North's ruthless campaign strategists, Mark Goodin and Mark Merritt, and on Don Baker, a cynical Washington Post reporter who covers the campaign. North runs as a right-wing Christian candidate, and makes his professed faith a major campaign issue. While his handlers compare North to Elvis, and the candidate compares himself to Jesus on one occasion, Baker refers to North as a demagogue. North constantly faces tough questions about his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal. On the one hand, he claims to want to set the record straight, and his campaign recruits former hostage David Jacobsen to vouch for North's good intentions. On the other hand, North constantly prevaricates about lying to Congress, for which he was convicted of perjury. Robb, meanwhile, deals with a political scandal caused by his personal indiscretions, and can't seem to take a stand on any particular issue. His campaign seems based entirely on what an awful choice his opponent would be. The film follows the campaign as independent candidate (and former Democratic governor of Virginia) Doug Wilder first challenges his long-time rival, Robb, then gives in to the will of the party (manifested by a visit from Bill Clinton) and drops out of the race to help defeat North. Goodin, who faced a political scandal of his own while working for the Reagan White House, is surprisingly forthright with the filmmakers about the political process, at one point admitting, "We provide entertainment, not solutions."
political-campaign, Senate, campaign-manager, election, political-machine, politician, US-government