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Gourmet Pandering

Posted on Thu Apr 13th, 2023 @ 7:17am by President Tomás Garcia Cardoso

Mission: September, 2022
Location: Quitinete Gourmet, Brazillia
Timeline: Date 2022-09-27 at 1000

Just under two hours on a military plane hadn’t done much for Tom’s nerves, but he had certainly got some time to catch up on those pesky side-tasks he had been putting off. The presidential candidate spoke on the phone with several donors, tackled scheduling with a staffer, and perused his transition team picks, just in case he actually won this thing. Once they’d landed, his small motorcade moved from the International Airport of Brazil to the Quitinete Gourmet, one of the best little breakfast spots in the city.

His advance team of campaign security checked the restaurant and the surrounding area and had kept a rather obvious vigil over it before his arrival, no doubt scaring some business away. He entered Quitinete Gourmet once they were sure no one present had a vendetta against him, or a Glock. As was now protocol, a Navy Steward had joined the cooking staff in the kitchen to learn and mimic their methods and to make the controversial candidate’s food, as his security wanted to safeguard him from the potential threat of poisoning. He wore a blue suit made of the special material designed to take pistol shot without too much trouble, and a light gray tie with solid black stripes. As soon as he entered the white room, illuminated by the morning light from the street through the large windows, every head in the room turned to him. People remarked at seeing the man who had been blasted loud over the entire Brazilian political world; a man who might soon become the Head of State. His goal, however, was for one person alone.

Barbara Ramsay had become a well-known name in academia and, more recently, in Brazilian politics. She served as CEO of the Education-for-all Initiative which worked to promote school choice and educational assistance in favelas, slums, and rural areas. She’d been offered a chance at a run for Congress but had turned it down flat, as well as a position as Education Minister to Bolsonaro, but somehow Tom thought he might win her over with his offer.

Barr sat at a table away from the large windows, no doubt having been asked to move by one of his security guards. She wore a hot pink pants-suit, expensive-looking round glasses, and a stark-white short haircut which made her look downright tough. She looked up at him as he entered and, rather than smiling, looked over her glasses with an evaluative expression.

“Barr, how are you?” Tom asked, offering a smile despite her expression. He pulled out a chair across from her at the table and quickly joined her.

“Oh, I’m getting old, as usual. You, on the other hand, have been setting the country on fire.” she responded, her bejeweled hands finding the menu in front of her. “Who would have thought that Tomás Cardoso, the hairbrained Deputy stuck on religion and family, would be shooing the President out of his position in the campaign?”

“Ah, saw that, did you?” He asked with a grin. It hid slight discomfort, which she picked up on, of course.

“It’s all over the damn news. ‘Bolsonaro bows out of race and endorses Tomás Garcia Cardoso’. People are wondering how you did it.”

“I wonder the same. But that’s the way it is. And now there’s only Lula between me and Planalto. It’s an exciting thing…I think.”

“Time will tell, dear. Time will tell.” she responded with a straight-faced wink, the only sign of her true feelings so far. “How is my girl, Mariana, and why didn't you bring her along?”

“Mariana had a campaign engagement in the north, or else she wouldn’t miss seeing you. It’s been a long time, after all.” He responded. “A couple months, at least.

Barbara and his wife went back to the beginning of their marriage. Barrara had just come back to Brazil from Harvard to serve as President of the University of Sao Paulo. After a chance meeting at a luncheon, Mariana had immediately impressed the older woman, who had at first dismissed her as another empty-headed fitness girl. When she saw Mariana had brains, personality, and religion, however, they struck up a friendship. She helped them out of some financial scrapes in the early days, and Tom was a constant help to her Initiative in the Chamber of Deputies.

“Well, I’m sure we’ll see each other soon, once this dreaded campaign is over. I can always use the help of a First Lady.”

Tom grinned then.

“You’re vote of confidence means alot, Barr.”

“I have every confidence in you kids.” she said, smiling this time, quite genuinely. “You’re going to do something amazing for Brazil. I know it for a fact.”

“How about joining me then?” he asked, quirking an eyebrow. It was a slightly awkward gesture, but one played off as a sort of cheeky confidence.

Barbara deflated slightly and rolled her eyes. With a slight sigh, she looked at him again.

“Please tell me you're not about to offer me a job..”

“Barr, you are one of the most talented lobbyists I’ve ever seen. And, what’s more, you’re the only one I know who doesn’t do it for the money. You care about your cause, yes, but you also care about Brazil and her people. I could use you on the inside.” he said, leaning in and making his pitch just as he had practiced it in the mirror at home. “You can make the laws you want to see instead of trying to get others to do it.”

“No, I can make the laws you want to see.” she said with a slightly less exasperated sigh.

“Same difference, Barr. We see eye to eye on alot.” he said.

She paused, seeming to think for a few moments without a word. Her thin white eyebrows moved up and down several times as thoughts flowed in her mind. Finally, she looked up at him again.

“What job are you offering? I might as well hear it before I tell you no, right?”

“The Chair of my Transition Project, if I win. And then, after I take office, my Presidential Counselor and Director of Legislative Affairs. You can write bills and whip votes with the power and prestige of the presidency behind you.”

Barbara blinked several times at that, her hand moving up to adjust her large round glasses. It was alot to take in, and the idea was more attractive to her than she imagined. Her lips parted long before she spoke, seeming to be wrestling between an optimistic response and a pessimistic one.

“Presidential Counselor…Director of Legislative Affairs. Those seem like roles for which I might be…well suited.” she started, and then shook her head. “But a Transition Chair? What does that have to do with me?”

“Let’s see, you spent four years as Vice President of Enrollment at Harvard, eight years as President at Sao Paolo, and you started and currently run one of the most successful conservative lobbying groups for education in Latin America. Are you serious right now?” he asked, leaning across the table. “You know your stuff, and you’re a great judge of character. That’s what I need as I form my administration. If I form my administration.”

Barr leaned back then, doing the opposite of what he was doing, her frown showing her age as she played hard to get, but this time, she seemed to be truly considering things.

“This is alot for me to think about, Tom.” she started, rapping her fingers on the glass table. “Let me talk it over with my people and have a few days to think, hmm?”

“Of course.” he responded, offering a handsome smile. “For now, let’s eat. I’m starved, and I hear this place makes the best waffles .”

"Your wife makes the best waffles." Barr said, wagging a finger at him. "But this place is a distant second."


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