James Danforth Quayle III

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Dan Quayle
Former Vice President
Image:Danquayle1.jpg
Party Republican

January 20, 1989 — January 20, 1993
Preceded by George H. W. Bush
Succeeded by Al Gore
Birthdate February 4, 1947

Quayle, James Danforth "Dan"

Republican Senator from Indiana, 1981-1988, and the 44th Vice-President of the United States, 1989-1993, famous for his humorous and confusing speaking missteps.

Quayle was born in Indianapolis, and graduated from DePauw University and University of Indiana Law School. He came from a deeply conservative family that had ties to the controversial John Birch Society, and throughout his political career was a principled conservative.

Quayle worked as an investigator for the Indiana Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office, and then joined the publishing staff of the newspaper run by his family.

In 1976, he was elected to Congress from Indiana, taking down a longtime Democratic incumbent. He was re-elected to a second term in 1978, and in 1980, pulled off an upset victory against legendary Indiana Democratic Senator Birch Bayh. He entered the US Senate in January 1981 at age 33.

In the Senate, he was again a strong conservative, and some argue that if Quayle had not gone on to become Vice-President, he would have become the leader of the far right in the Senate. In 1986, he won re-election to the Senate by the largest margin ever in a statewide race in Indiana, even as many of his Class of 1980 colleagues were defeated by Democrats.

In 1988, George H.W. Bush, the sitting Vice-President and the Republican nominee for President, tapped Quayle to be his running mate. This choice surprised many, as Bush did not need any help in carrying the strongly Republican state of Indiana, and Quayle was virtually an unknown outside his home state. Quayle faced off against the Democratic VP nominee, Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen. In a debate, Bentsen faulted Quayle for not having enough experience to seek the Vice-Presidential office. Quayle replied that he had as much political experience as did John Kennedy when he sought the Presidency in 1960. To this Bentsen replied famously, " Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." A stunned Quayle managed only a "That was really uncalled for, Senator."

The Bush-Quayle ticket, after resorting to some unsavory tactics, carried 40 states against the Dukakis-Bentsen ticket, and on January 20, 1989, Quayle became the new Vice-President.

He was defeated for re-election by Al Gore on the Clinton-Gore Democratic ticket in 1992. He sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, but withdrew after getting little popular support.

With his numerous and public troubles with the English language, Quayle earned (some say unfairly) a reputation of a bumbling, unqualified empty suit. He was known for his rants against the "elites", though he never explained in detail who these "elites" were.

It is worth noting that Quayle was the first person of his generation elected to a national office. He was just 41 when he became VP.

Quotes

There are a number of humorous and nonsensical quotes attributed to Quayle. Here are some gems:

"Welcome to President Bush, Mrs. Bush, and my fellow astronauts."

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is `to be prepared'."

"The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century.

"It's wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago."

"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."

"Unfortunately, the people of Louisiana are not racists. "

"We don't want to go back to tomorrow, we want to go forward. "

"It doesn't help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice."

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