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Remembering the Alan Alda-Jimmy Smits great debate on ‘West Wing’

Jimmy Smits, left, debates Alan Alda on

Jimmy Smits, left, debates Alan Alda on "The West Wing." Photo Credit: NBC

With Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump squaring off Sept. 26 at Hofstra University, it seems like a good time to look back at another notable presidential debate on TV: On Nov. 6, 2005, “The West Wing” aired a very different sort of episode: a debate between Republican Sen. Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) and Democratic Rep. Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits), the two candidates vying to succeed outgoing chief executive Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen). Here are five things to know about that memorable broadcast:

The episode was broadcast live twice, once for the East Coast and then for the West Coast.

The debate was moderated by a real news anchor — NBC’s Forrest Sawyer.

The episode was written by former Senate aide Lawrence O’Donnell, who now hosts MSNBC’s 10 p.m. show, “The Last Word.”

Topics covered during the debate included immigration, job creation, health care and African debt relief.

And just in case you’re wondering (or you forgot), Santos would go on to win the election — and he appointed Vinick as secretary of state.

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