|Played by:||Dennis Haysbert|
|Last episode:||Day 5 8:00am-9:00am|
David Palmer was a Democratic Senator from Maryland, and later the first African-American President of the United States of America. Although he initially sought a second term, he bowed out of the race after several personal affairs took a toll on his reelection campaign on Day 3.
Uncharacteristic for a politician, David Palmer had built his political career on integrity, honesty, commitment, and honor. He appeared to genuinely care about the welfare of the American people. Ex-Vice President Hal Gardner once said that "David was one of the greatest men to ever occupy the office."
- Age (at death): 55
- Ex-wife: Sherry Palmer (deceased)
- Son: Keith Palmer
- Daughter: Nicole Palmer
- Goddaughter: Elizabeth Nash
- Brother: President Wayne Palmer
- Sister: Sandra Palmer
- Juris Doctorate - University of Maryland School of Law
- Bachelor of Arts, Political Economy - Georgetown University
- Special Advisor to President Charles Logan
- President of the United States
- United States Congress, Senator (MD)
- United States Congress, Representative (MD)
- NCAA All-American - Men's Basketball
- Big East Conference - Defensive Player of the Year
- Sporting News - College Player of the Year
- Wooden Award for Player of the Year
Seven years before Day 1, Nicole was raped by a man named Lyle Gibson. After the attack, Keith sought out Gibson, and inadvertently killed him in a confrontation. Realizing that this would destroy David's political career, Sherry conspired with her children and Palmer financier Carl Webb to cover up the murder, creating the impression that Gibson had committed suicide. The four of them kept the truth secret from David up until Day 1, when he learned about the coverup from reporter Maureen Kingsley.
As a member of the House National Security Subcommittee, Senator David Palmer authorized a mission, codenamed Operation Nightfall, to eliminate Balkan war criminal Victor Drazen. The mission was organized by NSA operative Robert Ellis and carried out by a small team led by Jack Bauer.
Having arrived in Los Angeles the day before and made the rounds for photo-ops, Palmer sat in his hotel room after midnight with his staff, working on his speech for the next day. Reporter Maureen Kingsley called him up for a statement on her discovery of evidence suggesting that Keith had murdered Nicole's rapist seven years ago. Palmer warned her against airing the allegations and ended the conversation, choosing not to discuss the phone call with Sherry. He left a message for Carl Webb, in order to get him to look into the allegation, then noticed a news report on the crash of Flight 221.
Keith and Nicole got back from a rally at about 1:45am and Nicole headed off to bed. Carl called back and David arranged to meet him right away. He snuck out of the hotel without letting anyone know, and drove towards the meeting place.
Palmer's life was threatened during the course of Day 1. His political life was threatened on other fronts. His son, Keith, was shown to be a viable suspect in the murder of the man who raped his daughter. Palmer investigated, but found that telling the truth was preferable to covering it up with lies and took a stand in favor of his son. However, he found out his wife, Sherry, was trying to manipulate him, both in that potential scandal, and the one Sherry tried to create. David was furious with Sherry, and divorced her.
David Palmer also confronted Jack Bauer in person over the events of the first 10 hours of 24. He was no-nonsense, demanding a private, unrecorded interview with Bauer. Palmer, believing that Bauer wanted payback for the deaths of his covert operations team, started by demanding Jack to tell him of the other people involved in the assassination attempt on his life. Jack said he was trying to protect Palmer's life, which ultimately led Palmer to realize he was wrong about Jack and his motives. Jack did lead the covert operation which ultimately cost Jack his team, but Jack had no knowledge of Senator Palmer and his authorization of the mission. Jack carried the guilt over the loss of his team into his personal life, leading to a separation from his wife, and an affair with Nina Myers. However, Jack ended the affair, and Senator Palmer realized that Jack had been through a bad day. He authorized Jack's reinstatement on Day 1. After Jack's unwitting involvement in a second assassination attempt on Palmer's life, and Jack once again saving his life, Palmer returned the favor by having his staff claim that the assassination attempt succeeded so that Victor Drazen would spare the life of Jack's daughter, Kim Bauer.
Over a year later, in Day 2, David Palmer was still serving his term as President. As he was working out of the Northwest Region Operations Complex, he was alerted to the threat of a nuclear bomb detonating in the U.S. He was also informed that Bauer, now an inactive agent, has contacts with people who could lead them to the bomb. Jack was still distraught over the death of his wife and his strained relationship with Kim, and he ignored calls from CTU. However, he responded to the call from President Palmer. Jack became an active agent again and eventually caught the bomb and detonated it in a remote area.
Palmer also had difficulties throughout the day, including dealing with the treachery of NSA director Roger Stanton, and his advisor Mike Novick conspiring with his Vice President James Prescott to use the 25th Amendment to remove him from office because of his belief that the Cyprus recording may have been forged, and his refusal to authorize military action because of it. Eventually, Palmer was able to regain the presidency due to the efforts of Brian Jacobs and Jack Bauer.
In 24: The Game, James Prescott has taken over as acting president due to Palmer's illness. Palmer claims on television that he is healthy and ready to assume duties as President, however, he is still in a wheelchair, and his doctors privately state to him that he is still not healthy enough.
In Day 3, Palmer is faced with re-election. However, he is still the President, and is faced with many problems during the day, in addition to dealing with his ongoing campaign. His lover, Anne is implicated in a scandal--although she is innocent. Anne does not want to be in the political spotlight and decides that it is best to end her relationship with Palmer. Palmer's brother Wayne admits his affair with the wife of his biggest supporter, and Palmer is forced to choose life or death for Jack. Palmer chooses death, but eventually is informed of a huge terrorist threat where Jack had to go undercover. He doesn't like it, but his faith in Jack prevails. However, Palmer falters in the end. He brought Sherry Palmer back into his life to help. She does, but in the end David can't agree to her terms (i.e. re-marrying her). He ultimately drops out of the race for re-election, because of the death of his ex-wife.
In Day 4, Palmer is an ex-President. However, Mike Novick, a longtime friend, recommended he be brought in to assist the Acting President, Charles Logan, since the incumbent President Keeler was in a coma. Logan showed poor judgement abilities. He demanded the arrest of Jack Bauer, who led a raid on the Chinese Embassy to get a man who knew about the nuclear threat. When the raid failed, Logan called in Palmer. Palmer effectively led the events in the last part of day 4, but realized that Logan was a politician. He blamed Palmer when things went wrong, but took full credit when things went his way.
The Chinese government gained proof that Jack led the attack on the Chinese Consulate and demanded Jack's extradition. Palmer called Jack to thank him for his exemplary service to the country and told him that the Chinese government had proof of his role in the attack. When Jack asked what kind of proof they had, Palmer informed him that Howard Bern made a full confession on tape. Palmer also said that the Chinese probably wanted Jack to implicate the United States government in the attack. Jack insisted that he would never do this, and Palmer agreed. However, this decision was not up to him. Palmer informed Jack that a Secret Service agent was on his way to take Jack into custody. Palmer also promised Jack that he will do everything he could to bring him back to U.S. soil as soon as possible.
A few minutes later, Novick overheard a conversation between Logan's Chief of Staff, Walt Cummings, and Secret Service Agent Dale Spalding. Cummings ordered Spalding to kill Jack Bauer once he was in custody in order to prevent the Chinese from extracting any information. Novick gave this information to David Palmer. He paid his debt to Jack by warning him that the Secret Service was not just taking him into custody, but was instead planning on killing him. Jack was able to escape by faking his own death with the help of Tony Almeida, Michelle Dessler, and Chloe O'Brian.
David Palmer is one of the few people who knew Jack Bauer was alive after he faked his death.
At 7:03am, while writing his memoirs at his brother's penthouse apartment in Los Angeles, Palmer was assassinated by a sniper named Haas from an adjacent building with a .308 (NATO 7.62x51mm) round to the throat. He died instantly.
It was later revealed that Palmer had attempted to contact Martha Logan, a good friend and First Lady of the United States, with the intent of talking to her about a "matter of national security". This knowledge was what led to his assassination. Initially, Walt Cummings and James Nathanson were revealed as being complicit in the murder, but later it is discovered that Christopher Henderson arranged for the death, to prevent the First Lady from finding out that her husband, President Charles Logan was arranging to sell Sentox nerve gas to Russian Separatists led by Vladimir Bierko, although some time after that Logan was revealed to be manipulated by Graem Bauer, a power broker. The next morning, Logan gave a filmed, faux eulogy remembering Palmer and was arrested immediately afterwards by the Secret Service due to evidence incriminating him in the assassination, which was obtained thanks to the efforts of Jack Bauer, Martha Logan, Mike Novick, Chloe O'Brian, Morris O'Brian and Aaron Pierce. Logan was led to his limousine as Palmer was given a 21-gun salute before being placed on a plane headed for Washington, DC.
President David Palmer was buried at Arlington National Cemetary.
Selected cabinet and administration officials
- Vice President: Jim Prescott (Season 2-3)
- Chief of Staff: Mike Novick (Season 1-2), Wayne Palmer (Season 3)
- Director of the National Security Agency: Roger Stanton (Season 2)
- Deputy Director of the National Security Agency: Eric Rayburn (Season 2)
- Counselor to the President: Lynne Kresge (Season 2)
- Press Secretary: Jenny Dodge (Season 2)
- Secretary of Homeland Security: Joseph O'Laughlin (Season 3)
- Defense Appropriations Bill (sometime between Season 1 and Season 2)
- Social Security Bill (sometime between Season 1 and Season 2)
- Job Creation and worker Assistance Act (sometime between Season 2 and Season 3)
- A bill to improve health care for Americans (Palmer's biggest contributor, Alan Miliken, threatened to stop this bill, and it is unknown whether the bill was passed) (Season 3)
- Secretly authorized an operation to take out Balkan war criminal Victor Drazen (2 years before Season 1)
- Took reporter Ron Weiland into custody against his will (Season 2)
- Ordered the torture of NSA Director Roger Stanton (Season 2)
- Enlisted ex-wife Sherry Palmer's help (Seasons 2, 3)
- Opened the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling (Midnight Sun)
- Authorized a prison break-in to covertly release terrorist Ramon Salazar, as per terrorist demands (Season 3)
- Gave in to demands of terrorist Stephen Saunders several times, including the murder of Ryan Chappelle (Season 3)
- Lied to LA police chief to provide an alibi for Sherry Palmer (Season 3)
- Authorized a covert operation to extract a vital witness who was a Chinese national from the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles. During this operation the consul was killed, which could be considered an act of war, even though he was killed by friendly fire. (Season 4)
Family and personal life
David was married to Sherry Palmer for 25 years. During the events of Day 1, David began to realize that he didn't know his wife as well as he thought, and her constant manipulations caused him to file for divorce. Sherry took the divorce hard, but she still kept contact with her ex-husband. According to a conversation he had with his son Keith, Palmer didn't keep contact with Sherry after the divorce. However, he used her as a informal special assistant during the events of Day 2 and Day 3. David was devastated when Sherry was killed by Julia Milliken, who committed suicide after the murder. The death of his ex-wife caused David to drop out of the election for his second term.
President Palmer has two siblings, a brother named Wayne and a sister named Sandra. After David fired Mike Novick as his Chief of Staff, he hired his brother. David worked with his brother on his Presidential memoirs during the opening moments of Day 5. 20 months after David's assassination, Wayne served as the President of the United States. David's sister was a lawyer and she worked for the Islamic-American Alliance during the events of Day 6.
Seven years prior to the events of Day 1, Palmer's daughter Nicole was raped by Lyle Gibson. Nicole struggled to get over the rape, but had successfully moved on by the time Day 1 started. Maureen Kingsley planned on coming out with a story that accused Palmer's son Keith of murder. Kingsley had evidence that proved Keith killed Lyla in a scuffle. The story was eventually killed by Carl Webb and the groups who supported Palmer's campaign. However, after Palmer received evidence that proved the campaigners were behind George Ferragamo's death, he decided to come out with the story, which raised his poll numbers.
During the time Palmer had a campaign for re-election, he dated Anne Packard, his personal physician. Anne was also a divorcee and during Palmer's debate with Senator John Keeler, an issue that regarded Anne came up. Keeler made a proclamation that Anne conspired with her ex-husband Ted to "cook the books" at a pharmaceutical company. Anne claimed that she was innocent and David believed in her innocence. After Ted handed over evidence to Anne that exonerated her of any charges, he committed suicide. Anne realized David's life was far to complicated and she broke up with him.
- Tony Almeida Senator Palmer? What can I do for you, sir?
- Senator Palmer I'm here to see Jack Bauer.
- Sherry Palmer: Mike's job is to tell you what you want to hear. Mine is to tell you the truth.
- Senator Palmer: You're not qualified for that job.
- President Palmer: Make no mistake: if we unleash our military power on nations that later prove innocent, it will rank as one of the most despicable sneak attacks in history. Any chance for peace in the Middle East will vanish forever. Even if it'll cost American lives in the future, we must delay this attack until we are certain of our ground.
- Second Grader: Is it true you played basketball?
- Senator Palmer: Sure did. Georgetown.
- Second Grader: My daddy says Georgetown sucks.
- Senator Palmer: I think I need to have a little talk with your daddy.
- Second Grader: He also says there will never be a black president in this country, ever.
- Senator Palmer: Would you give your daddy a message for me? Tell him I understand where he's coming from, but he's wrong. And I'm gonna prove it.
- Second Grader: Okay.
- David Palmer: You're fired. Pack up. Get out. And don't bother to ask me or anyone on my staff for a reference. Prospective employers won't like what I'll have to say.
- President Palmer: This is probably the last time we'll ever speak. Jack, you do understand - when you hang up, for all intents and purposes, Jack Bauer is dead.
- Jack Bauer: I understand that, sir. Mr. President, it's been an honor.
- President Palmer: Same for me my friend.
See more memorable quotes by David Palmer....
Background information and notes
- A picture of David is seen in the Oval Office during Day 6 11:00pm-12:00am.
- David Palmer was the first African-American president elected to office on the show.
- David's brother Wayne succeeded him two terms later, and became the second African-American man elected to office.
- Although they were close friends, Palmer and Jack Bauer only met on three occasions in 24, all of them on Day 1, though they spoke to each other frequently by phone in later seasons.
- An "April Fools" joke ending of Season 2 involved Palmer getting into a car with Nina Myers, which would implicate him in the day's events. Instead, the writers had Mandy attempt to assassinate him.
- Palmer was the only character beside Jack that appeared in the first 72 episodes of the show.
- Appeared in all of the season finales of the first four seasons.
- Palmer was the only character beside Jack that appeared in all the first 69 Previously on 24
- According to his Presidential memoirs, Palmer spent time as a youth in Philadelphia. It is unclear as to if he was born there, or lived there.
- An alternate ending for Day 2 was filmed, which shows Palmer getting up after Mandy's assassination attempt and telling the people around him he is fine. This was done so the extras used in the scene wouldn't go around spoiling the ending. This alternate version appears in the deleted scenes on the season 2 DVD.
- Footage of Mandy's assassination attempt on Palmer from the final episode of Day 2 appeared on James Nathanson's television screen in Day 5 8:00am-9:00am.