James Baker sitting in front of bookshelfJames Baker sitting in front of bookshelf

James Baker

Played by Tom Wilkinson

In the Film
Chief legal advisor to George W. Bush during the 2000 election

The Princeton grad and former Marine received his J.D. from the University of Texas in 1952. Originally a Democrat, he left the party in 1970 to lead the Senate campaign for his friend George H.W. Bush, which ended in failure. After serving as Undersecretary of Commerce for President Ford, he worked as chief of staff for President Reagan. In 1984, he managed Reagan's re-election campaign to a landslide victory and became Secretary of the Treasury. After helping place Bush in the White House in 1988, he was appointed Secretary of State, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom before leaving the position in 1992. Over the next five years, he founded the James A. Baker Institute of Public Policy at Rice University, published his memoirs and became the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara.

After the Recount
Following the Supreme Court's recount ruling, Baker and Former President Jimmy Carter headed a commission formed to recommend changes to election laws. Their resulting report suggested 87 reforms, including the creation of a voter ID card, which some voting-rights advocates considered too much of a barrier to the polls. In 2006, Baker published his memoirs - complete with an appearance on the Daily Show - and served on the Iraq Study Group, a bi-partisan effort tasked with finding a way to extricate the U.S. from Iraq. The panel recommended significant shifts in Bush's policy and suggested direct talks with Iran and Syria.