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Linda Vasquez was the former President Garrett Walker's Chief of Staff.
Of Cuban-American descent, she is known to have graduated from the University of California (according to the degree on her wall), and is assumed to be a Californian.
Despite Frank Underwood convincing President Garrett Walker to make her his White House Chief of Staff, one of Vasquez's first duties as Chief of Staff is to personally inform Frank that Walker has reneged on his pre-election promise to make Frank Secretary of State. Vasquez also asks, on behalf of Walker (who did not attend the meeting), for Frank to move past his hurt feelings to champion and shepherd Walker's legislative agenda -- starting with an education-reform bill that Walker badly wants to pass Congress in his first 100 days as President. Though enraged, humiliated, and devastated at losing his one chance to escape being stuck in a job that wastes most of his talents, yet gives less-talented people control over him, Frank dutifully pledges his support. Internally, however, the snub leads Frank (and wife, Claire) to privately hatch an elaborate plan to ensure that he will never be in a position to be pushed around by anyone, ever again.
Vasquez has at least one son, Ruben, who badly wanted to attend Stanford University. She feels guilty about having put her political career ahead of family when Stanford rejects Ruben's application, which devastates her son. Linda even privately concedes to Frank that she was more focused on Walker's presidential campaign during the last year, and her son's grades suffered as a result. Seeing an opportunity to gain leverage on Vasquez, Frank secretly gets Gillian Cole, a prominent Stanford alumnus, to use her contacts in the school's leadership to get Ruben's rejection reversed. Though overjoyed at Ruben's subsequent admission, Vasquez tells Frank that she knows it was because of him (Frank denies it). Frank cashes-in that favor soon after: after he manipulates the Vice President into resigning, Vasquez sharply confronts Frank, demanding that he finally give a truthful answer (about whether or not he wanted the Vice Presidency for himself). In a rare moment of complete honesty, Frank gambles by admitting to Vasquez that he does want the VP job; then, convinces the reluctant-but-loyal Vasquez to assist in positioning himself as the best possible replacement, in Walker's eyes.
Once he becomes Vice President, Frank and Vasquez increasing clash with and undermine one another, as she is the only one in the White House who realizes that Frank is covertly undermining Walker's presidency (although she is unsure of why). Their personal war over who will be the most influential voice in President Walker's ear boils over into a bitter, late-night argument over which one of them is more committed to what's best for Walker. Afterward, Vasquez comes to the depressing realization that Frank has already won that war. The next day, Vasquez hands her formal resignation to President Walker, who is inclined to reject it -- but asks Frank's advice, first. Frank deftly convinces Walker to accept the resignation -- eliminating a major roadblock to Frank's ultimate goal, in the process. After Walker accepts her resignation, Linda Vasquez pays a surprise visit to Frank on her way out of the White House. Supremely dignified in defeat, Vasquez adeptly thanks Frank for getting her the Chief of Staff job, promises not to retaliate against him in the media, and gives the Civil War history buff a parting gift from the Smithsonian: the first Medal Of Honor the U.S. government ever awarded to a Hispanic American (which occurred during that war). To her face, Frank promises to only speak positively of her to others; to the viewers, he confesses an all-time high level of respect for Vasquez, because "she played [i.e., the fight to win ultimate presidential influence] to win!".
Underwood describes Vasquez "as tough as a two-dollar steak". She is a tireless worker, networker, and problem-solver. No matter how busy she is, however, Vasquez never loses sight of her main mission: keeping an extremely protective, strategically-sharp, eagle-eye on The President's public policy interests, political well-being, and time-management. Vasquez is extremely intelligent and has a reputation for being brutally blunt with people; however, she also understands and can demonstrate tact, diplomacy, and grace. While primarily a no-nonsense pragmatist, Vasquez can also manage and massage the big egos common to the Wall Street-Washington, D.C. complex.
Behind the Scenes
- Linda Vasquez was portrayed by acclaimed Indian-American Broadway/feature film star, Sakina Jaffrey in Season 1 and Season 2 of House of Cards.
- Sakina Jaffrey based her portrayal partly on White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.
|"Chapter 1"||"Chapter 2"||"Chapter 3"||"Chapter 4"||"Chapter 5"|
|"Chapter 6"||"Chapter 7"||"Chapter 8"||"Chapter 9"||"Chapter 10"|
|"Chapter 11"||"Chapter 12"||"Chapter 13"|
|"Chapter 14"||"Chapter 15"||"Chapter 16"||"Chapter 17"||"Chapter 18"|
|"Chapter 19"||"Chapter 20"||"Chapter 21"||"Chapter 22"||"Chapter 23"|
|"Chapter 24"||"Chapter 25"||"Chapter 26"|
|Preceded by||White House Chief of Staff|
January 20, 2013 – 2014
| Succeeded by|
|United States order of precedence|
|Preceded by||Order of Precedence of the United States|
as White House Chief of Staff
| Succeeded by|