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Ainsley Hayes is a fictional character on the television serial drama The West Wing. Played by Emily Procter, she is the Associate and later Deputy White House Counsel, a Republican who was hired by White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry at the direction of President Bartlet.

Character biography

Personal history

Ainsley is a native of North Carolinamarker. A lifelong Republican, her grandfather was once chairman of the North Carolinamarker Republican Party. She attended Smith Collegemarker and later went to Harvard Law Schoolmarker, where she met fellow Republican Clifford 'Cliff' Calley, whom she would later introduce to Donna Moss. She was also a member of the Young Republicans.

After law school, Ainsley clerked for conservative Supreme Courtmarker Justice Dreifort. She then worked as a conservative spokeswoman.

Ainsley was introduced in the episode "In this White House" as a Republican spokesperson debating with Sam Seaborn on Capitol Beat (A Meet the Press-style show). Sam underestimates Hayes due to her looks, leading to his public humiliation: Hayes easily bests Sam in the debate, much to the amusement of the West Wing staffers. After the interview, the President is impressed with her and directs Leo McGarry to hire her in the Counsel's office. After meeting Leo, Ainsley is shocked by the offer and turns it down, but after seeing the honorable way in which the President and his staff deal with a difficult international incident, she changes her mind and takes the job.

In "And It's Surely to Their Credit," Ainsley is on the first day of her job and is introduced to the White House Counsel, Lionel Tribbey, who is upset over false testimony given by White House Staffers to the Majority Counsel's office. Tribbey sends her to the Hill to deal with the Counsel because she "speaks Republican". After the meeting she speaks with the staffers and with Sam Seaborn, all of whom distrust her as a Republican and are openly rude to her. When Sam goes to apologize, he discovers that the two staffers have sent Ainsley a bouquet of dead flowers and an obscene note. Sam fires the staffers and the next day joins CJ, Josh and Toby in decorating Ainsley's office (the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue) with Posters from Gilbert & Sullivan and welcoming her to the White House.

In the rest of the second season Ainsley reappears occasionally playing the role of foil to Sam Seaborn, opposing him on issues and often making him rethink his position. She also interacts with Donna Moss when Donna's date got her confused with Ainsley.

In the Third Season Ainsley was promoted to Deputy White House Counsel in order to ameliorate the damage done after President Bartlet made a public remark questioning the intelligence of Republican presidential nominee Robert Ritchie during the 2002 presidential campaign.

She disappeared from the show without explanation in 2003. The Bartlet White House later hired another Republican lawyer, Joe Quincy, who played a key role in the events leading to the resignation of Vice President John Hoynes.

Hayes reappeared for Leo McGarry's funeral in the 2006 episode "Requiem," shortly after Matt Santos' election to the presidency. She had been a fellow at the Hoover Institution for barely nine days when she asked Chief of Staff C.J. Cregg about serving as White House Counsel in the incoming Santos Administration. Though it is unclear if she was appointed to this position, Santos Chief of Staff Josh Lyman gives indicationsthat she will get this position.

Personality Traits

Ainsley is a conservative who opposes the Equal Rights Amendment and gun control. Nevertheless, she is willing to work for Democrats and has an excellent working relationship with Deputy White House Communications Director Sam Seaborn. She was also terrified of meeting the unabashedly liberal President Bartlet, causing her to act quite strangely when Sam tried to arrange such a meeting. When they finally did meet, Ainsley was in her basement office, drunk and wearing only a white robe.

Ainsley is also a bit eccentric, like many of The White House Staff. She has a tendency when nervous to speak in an odd rhythm (Lionel Tribbey called her out for speaking in iambic pentameter) and uses idioms in an odd fashion.

Ainsley has a bit of a sweet tooth, often looking for pastries, when she is exasperated. One time she even asked for a muffin after berating a Senatorial Aide in "The Lame Duck Congress."

See also

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