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In episode 11 of season 3 of House of Cards, would it not have been obvious that Sharp was “in concert” with Underwood if she had announced her support for him, as planned, rather than for Dunbar, after dropping out? It’s explicitly pointed out that Underwood wants to avoid such an impression:

Underwood: Oh you mean the thing about your kids?
Sharp: That wasn’t what we discussed.
Underwood: Well I had to hit you hard so she wouldn’t. And besides, we had to dispel any suspicion that you and I might be in concert.

But wouldn’t that still have been obvious if she had announced her support for him, especially if Underwood had later, as planned, picked her up as his vice-presidential candidate?

During the first Democratic nomination debate, Sharp is highly critical of Dunbar, and somewhere between non-critical and outright supportive of Underwood. Underwood does hit her with the above-mentioned “thing”. But other than that, and while we of course don’t see the whole debate, I still did not get the impression that there was much in the way of cross-fire between them. In fact, when Underwood makes the comment about her stepchildren, she does not just seem struck that he’s using that point against her, she seems utterly flabbergasted he’s being critical of her at all. As if being critical of each other was entirely not part of the plan. If Sharp truly wanted to be president, as the public is supposed to believe, I would expect her to attack both opposing candidates, perhaps even focussing more on Underwood than on Dunbar with him being the sitting president.

I’m not that familiar with American politics, but it seems like a strange sequence of events to me for one candidate to focus criticism on the one other candidate that is not the sitting president, then to drop out after only the first debate and get picked up as the vice-presidential candidate later. Wouldn’t that make the first debate a rather obviously “staged” unfair fight? Or perhaps the answer is that it would be obvious but by the time it is so, the public wouldn’t care much?

  • Note that it would be only media speculations, without any hard proof. My guess is that such speculations wouldn't matter much (i.e. not to the point of really damaging Frank or Jackie's position), but let's wait for an answer from someone with an actual knowledge of American politics. – Chanandler Bong Mar 27 '15 at 9:55
  • I agree there’s probably no hard proof. I’m not sure whether such speculations wouldn’t matter much though, I’d assume that depends heavily on how negatively the public would view any hint of collusion between the candidates during the debate, and how close the votes are. But I don't know enough about American politics to get a sense of what the public’s reaction might be, or to know whether there are similar historical examples. – Rinzwind Mar 30 '15 at 19:33
  • @Hegemon: care to post your comment as an answer? I’m afraid no one has a better one, so I would accept it. – Rinzwind Apr 24 '15 at 19:26
  • Since you specifically asked I did it, but I think my answer isn't even half as good as this question deserves, that's why originally I only commented. – Chanandler Bong Apr 27 '15 at 11:30
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In my opinion even if it gives some "feeling" of a foul play there is no hard proof, so if media pick that up it would only be a speculation. It would surely have some negative effect, but not strong enough to matter. I think knowing Frank we may safely assume that he took that into account when planning the whole thing.

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