Putting A Peace Effort Over His Legacy
Dalton can sometimes be hawkish, but Elizabeth learned quickly how to talk him out of his need for quick, decisive action on the world stage. On Madam Secretary Season 1 Episode 5, he agreed to hold off on an airstrike against Iran for 24 hours even though the strike would help cement his legacy so that Elizabeth could try one last time to find a peaceful solution. Despite Dalton's loss of temper with Elizabeth, in the end he put the greater good over his political aspirations.
Helping Lift the Cuba Embargo
On Madam Secretary Season 2 Episode 7, Dalton supported Elizabeth's attempt to lift the US embargo against Cuba despite Congressional disapproval and an advisor that was determined to sabotage Elizabeth's plan. Sure, he was motivated at least partially by how good it would make his administration look to achieve this historic change, but there's no doubt what he was doing served the greater good too.
Dealing with A Russian Despot
Dalton got involved in the quest to confront Maria Ostrov, the new leader of Russia who had murdered her husband, on Madam Secretary Season 2 Episode 10. His goal was to force Russia to cooperate with peace talks, using this information as leverage. Dalton also had to make the difficult decision to give up Dmitri, Henry's student turned spy, to get Ostrov to play ball. All of this came at a great price, too, as the Russians attacked the Presidential limo and could have succeeded in murdering President Dalton.
Coordinating the Effort to Catch a Terrorist
Presidents need to make difficult decisions in the name of national and international security, and Madam Secretary Season 2 Episode 21 was no exception. Dalton had to decide what to do after receiving a tip that a terrorist leader was hiding in Pakistan. Not only did Dalton have to make split-second decisions about how he wanted to handle a number of situations, but he also had to make the difficult choice to ask Henry to join the mission -- something Elizabeth wasn't happy about.
Risking His Re-Election Chances for Climate Change
On Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 1, Dalton faced a primary challenge as well as pressure from Elizabeth to address the issue of climate change. Russell advised Dalton against mentioning climate change because it might hurt his re-election chances, and at first Dalton went along with it, but after hearing Elizabeth's passionate speech on the matter he again decided to put principles over political ambition and risked his career by taking a stand at a primary debate.
Taking Action During an Election
By Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 8, the primaries were over and Dalton was running as an independent. He had to make yet another controversial decision, this time involving Russia helping Iran build nuclear weapons. He knew that taking action against Russia could destroy his re-election chances, but he also knew he had to protect the US from a possible nuclear war. He again put principles over political ambition, going ahead with action against Russia despite public disapproval.
Taking a Hard Line With International Kidnappers
Dalton's administration usually takes the stance that it doesn't negotiate with terrorists and doesn't give in to ransom demands, and with good reason. Giving in once would encourage other troublemakers to engage in the same kind of violence. But on Madam Secretary Season 3 Episode 20, this policy became substantially more difficult to enforce when the hostage was Jay -- a respected and loved member of Elizabeth's staff. Dalton chose to stick with protocol and the situation was resolved a different way.
Trying to Avert a Government Shutdown
On Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 3, the threat of a government shutdown hung over Dalton's head if he couldn't successfully negotiate a budget with Congress. Dalton negotiated in good faith, but when Senator Morejon threatens to shut down the government if Dalton doesn't get his way, Dalton feels he must walk away. Morejon gets his way when the continuing resolution fails the Senate, but Dalton certainly tried his best to avert this possibility.
Stepping Down Temporarily Because of Illness
On Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 12, Dalton begins making a series of erratic decisions, becoming so convinced that Russia is responsible for trouble in the Middle East that he nearly causes a nuclear war! It takes a confrontation from most of his staff to get him to realize something is wrong, but after he learns he has a benign brain tumor, Dalton steps down temporarily for the good of the country, putting America's best interest over his ego while he gets treatment.
Taking Swift Action Against a Nuclear Threat
In many cases, Dalton's desire to take swift military action against Russia doesn't become a reality because of new information. But on Madam Secretary Season 4 Episode 22, he doesn't have many options thanks to the threat that Russia is testing nuclear weapons. Dalton orders a counterstrike to keep Russia from causing trouble, but he doesn't take this decision lightly.
Talking With a Group of Kids
Dalton often carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, but on Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 3, he has a rare opportunity to do something more uplifting. When a group of inner city students visits the White House, he steps out of the Oval Office to greet them personally and talk to them about what his job is like. This helps fulfill the group's mission of introducing these students to politics and giving them hope that they can participate in the political system someday.
Encouraging Blake to Speak Up
Blake struggled with self-confidence throughout Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 8. Lots of people encouraged him, but it was Dalton who had the most impact. After Blake made a suggestion at a meeting about a crisis, Dalton not only agreed with his idea but told him that he didn't like him keeping his good ideas to himself. Getting a compliment from the President of the United States helped Blake feel ready for the new job position that he was moving into.
Refusing To Play Games With a Military Contract
On Madam Secretary Season 5 Episode 12, a military contractor nearly caused an international conflict by leaking information to China in an attempt to force the US to buy its planes. Dalton was not about to accept this behavior and took decisive action to resolve the problem and put the world on notice that war games were not on the table.