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The making of the president 1996.


"At the time, there wasn't this moral ambiguity as far as supporting the war but not being willing to sign up and go there--certainly not in my mind," Quayle said. "What that statement reflected was the political ambiguity of my situation. I had done what I thought was right, what I wanted to do at that particular time, which was to get on with my education, without making any kind of calculated decision about a political career, because I really wasn't set on a political career at that time. I had been more oriented toward law and the newspaper business. I didn't have a burning desire to be president--that developed later. . . .

"If I had in fact known at that time that I really wanted to be president of the United States, then I could have calculated--like I think some of my generation thought about it in college and calculated for that reason--that . . . from a political point of view, it looks better on a resume to have served in Vietnam."

Quayle received his early campaign training from a professional handler, a media consultant named Don Ringe. He was brought to Ringe's studio in Washington to be drilled in the art of eloquence. The tape of those training sessions was turned over to a transcription service for record keeping, and it is a rare document, revealing not only the unvarnished exchanges between a handler and his subject, worthy of Pygmalion, but the tentative efforts of a future vice president to locate his own motivations and beliefs.

The tape begins with a voice exercise: "I'm Dan Quayle. I'm Dan Quayle. I'm Dan Quayle. I am Dan Quayle. The real Dan Quayle. The real Dan Quayle stand up. I'm Dan Quayle. I'm Dan Quayle."

"All right," said Ringe, "and what are you running for? I'm Dan Quayle--and what?"

"I'm Dan quayle. I'm running for the U.S. Senate."

"Sounds to me like you're not sure."

"Why are we getting into this?" asked Quayle. "Okay," he agreed. "Because I believe in public service. I want to have the opportunity to serve."

"Got you, I've got you, I've got you."

"What?" asked Quayle.



Ringe asked him again "why you're running."

"I think I'm part of that new generation of leadership and I want to be part of that new generation of leadership."

"Tell me about, tell me about your past."

Quayle explained that he had been a political science major at DePauw.


"Because I've always had a deep interest in government. . . . And political science was a natural for someone like myself."

"Why? Why was it a natural for somebody like yourself? What, what is your motivation coming from?"

"I think," suggested Quayle, "my mother and father had always talked to me about public service."

"You know, it sounds to me like you're giving a speech. You're not talking to me."


"You should just tell me why it is. Just tell me."

"Okay, just talk to you." Quayle paused and then tried again. "All right. First of all, I've always had a general interest in government. Secondly, I really always wanted to go to law school ever since I was a little kid."


"I've always wanted to have a law background. Thought maybe a lawyer, interested in laws. Laws affect people. And it's a good background for anything, whether you become a full-time lawyer or become a businessman or whether you get into government or whatever you're going to do. I've always wanted to be a lawyer, to have a law background. And political science, political science is the, ah the best type of major most people say for going into law."

"What was it about people that so intrigued you to want to become involved in policy or government. What is it?"

"If you take the political science background plus going to law school, I wanted it for background for my own information. . . . I would be able to use that background and whatever I decided to do in my career. . . . But I was never a full-time practicing attorney. I left that up to my wife."

"What was it about consumer advocacy that interested you?" asked Ringe, referring to Quayle's first job, in the consumer protection division of the attorney general's office.

"Actually it was a job. It wasn't any special interest in the consumer affairs." Quayle laughed, according to the transcription notes. "I'm sure you don't want . . ."

"Now tell me what was it that turned you on about consumer affairs."

"I needed a paycheck and the attorney general said that I would be the best to go down there because he knew that I was anti-consumer." Quayle laughed again.

"You were anti-consumer?"

"I figured you liked that one anyway," said Quayle, trying to please.

"I'm going to have this tape bronzed," Ringe replied. He asked about details of Quayle's early days. "You said something about having attended all those public schools . . ."

"Because there were no private schools around."

"No," said Ringe, "I meant how many, how come you went to. . . . Why [so] many different [ones]?"

Quayle explained the various moves made by his family while he grew up.

"Tell me about your dad," asked Ringe.

". . . He's a fine person. Somebody that's been a great influence on me. And, ah. . . . Well, I think that the most, ah, telling thing he said: Don't ever let the guys grind you down. He'd always say: What you're going to have ups and downs in life but there'll be more ups than downs and when you get down just remember there's another day. And I think that was actually his statement to me when we had difficult times. He'd always say: The sun will shine another day."

"He looked different. He looked sort of real."
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Title Annotation:Dan Quayle - standard target for comedians
Author:Blumenthal, Sidney
Publication:Washington Monthly
Date:Dec 1, 1990
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