Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) is a handsome, youthful widower and a dedicated Democrat raising a teenage daughter. He also just happens to be the president of the United States of America, and a very popular one at that. Unfortunately, he's also quite lonely, and the life of a president leaves little time for dating. But when he meets luminous lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), he's instantly smitten and impulsively (and somewhat awkwardly) asks her out to a state dinner. Shocked and highly uncertain of what she's getting into, Sydney accepts his invitation, and the courting process begins--to the unrelenting delight of the media. The chief executive's protective staff, however, isn't so sure the romance is a good thing, particularly when political paparazzi capture Sydney spending the night in the presidential bedroom. While intriguing to the press, the affair spells trouble in the form of Republican presidential hopeful Bob Rumson (Richard Dreyfuss), who uses the romance to attack Shepherd's supposed lack of family values and moral instincts. Rumson's ploy works--Shepherd's popularity plummets, weakening his reelection bid, his hand on Capitol Hill, and ultimately threatening his relationship with Sydney. If Shepherd salvages his political career, will it be at the expense of Sydney's love?