Jennifer Armstrong
January 05, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

WAYNE PALMER
DB Woodside

FIRST APPEARANCE Wayne makes his debut as a regular character in the season 6 premiere, though he recurred during seasons 3 and 5.

WHAT’S HIS STORY? The former Marine previously served as chief of staff to his brother, the assassinated former president David Palmer. He’s now succeeded David to the highest office in the land. ”Over the course of the season we will see someone who starts the presidency as a boy and matures into a man,” says Woodside. ”He has a good heart, but there’s nothing that he’s not willing to do to further his agenda if he believes [it’s] best for the American people.”

WHAT THE PRODUCERS SAY ”He’s the RFK to David’s JFK,” says exec producer Howard Gordon. ”He’s living in the shadow of his brother’s memory, having been swept into office because of his association. He has to live up to an idealized president that he’s not sure he can live up to.”

PRESIDENTIAL PRESSURES The Bobby Kennedy parallels haven’t escaped Woodside, either: ”They’re both scrappy people. I think that’s the difference between Wayne and the past presidents. This guy isn’t afraid to get down there in the mud and slug it out with people.” Still, the memory of his two predecessors — Haysbert’s POTUS and Itzin’s grippingly duplicitous Charles Logan — lingers. ”I’m just hoping not to be a disappointment,” admits Woodside. But then the actor shifts straight into some trademark Palmer bravado: ”I can speak from the White House end [of the story], and I’ll say it’s gonna be better than last year.” And yes, he knows that’s one heck of a campaign promise.

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