Tanner '88

Tanner '88

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Tanner '88

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Tanner '88 is a political mockumentary miniseries written by Garry Trudeau and directed by Robert Altman. First broadcast by HBO during the months leading up to the 1988 U.S. presidential election, it purports to tell the behind-the-scenes story of the campaign of a former Michigan U.S. representative Jack Tanner during his bid to secure the Democratic party's nomination for the national race for President of the United States.

The story is told from a number of different points of view, including Tanner, his campaign staff, the small army of news reporters that constantly follow the candidate, and volunteers. Many political figures of the time appear (some in cameos, some extended), including Bruce Babbitt, Bob Dole, Kitty Dukakis, Gary Hart, Jesse Jackson, and Pat Robertson. Trudeau and Altman revisited the story 16 years later in Tanner on Tanner.

Plot summary

Representative Jack Tanner of Michigan (Michael Murphy) is an obscure liberal Democratic politician who struggles to find a voice in the early 1988 Democratic primaries. His campaign manager, T.J. Cavanaugh (Pamela Reed), uses an unscripted, impassioned hotel-room speech caught on camera as part of an advertising campaign focusing on Tanner's authenticity and integrity. Using the slogan "For Real", Tanner emerges from a wide field of contenders to battle for the nomination against two high-profile and better-funded candidates: Jesse Jackson and eventual nominee Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

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