|QUAYLE ON THE TRAIL|
September 16, 1999
Washington Post reporter Dan Balz assesses former Vice President Dan Quayle's bid for the Republican presidential nomination, following a background report by Margaret Warner.
MARGARET WARNER: After his disappointing 8th place finish in last month's Iowa straw poll, former Vice President Dan Quayle decided to pull out of virtually every other state and focus all of his energies on New Hampshire -- site of the first presidential primary next year. Quayle's spending lots of time in New Hampshire now and he was back in the state again this week. Yesterday morning at a radio call-in show in Dover.
MIKE POMP, Radio Host: Vice President Quayle, thanks very much for joining us on WTSN's open mike...
DAN QUAYLE: Good morning. Good to be here...
MARGARET WARNER: The candidate was frank about how important New Hampshire has become for him.
DAN QUAYLE: I have to do well in New Hampshire in order to get the financing to continue. If I don't do very well and convince the people of my party that we've got a very good chance of winning - it will be very difficult for me to go on, but I think I am going to do very well.
|Changing his image|
MARGARET WARNER: Since only three listeners called in during the one-hour program, most of Quayle's conversation was with host Mike Pomp.
MIKE POMP: It was said about you that, that you didn't have the maturity to be vice president in 1988. How have you changed that image to show that you are a leader and that you can take into the White House and be a good president?
DAN QUAYLE: Since that time I have had a number of experiences. Obviously I am a number of years older, not only have I been vice president -- but since being vice president, I have written three books, been teaching at business/graduate school in Arizona, I've traveling the country, traveled the world. Today as I look to you and tell you I am ready to be president, prepared to be president. But I am ready today.
MARGARET WARNER: Then it was on to a Rotary Club lunch at nearby Woodsky's Restaurant. Quayle laid out his major campaign themes.
DAN QUAYLE: Perhaps you will agree with me that there is nothing more important than working to strengthen the American family and the question is how are we going to do that? How are we going to strengthen the American family? First of all it would be important to reclaim some of the values that make families strong. Values like respect, integrity, freedom, faith -- these are core values of any family. If the family is strong society is strong, if the family falls apart society falls apart.
My agenda is a reform agenda -- fighting for the American family -- stengthening the American family and when I speak of a reform agenda, I speak of reforming our tax code -- I am proposing a 30% across the board rate reduction in taxes.
MARGARET WARNER: Quayle then took questions from the audience.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Why do you want to become President of the United States?
DAN QUALYE: I love problems [laughter] I love the American people. I know what the job is - I was the vice president with a wonderful man for four years -- it is a job that is not described as being fun, but it is very rewarding -- to work for the American people, to deal with the challenges around the world.
|Quayle as statesman|
MARGARET WARNER: Later that afternoon, at Unitel Electric Company in Hampton, Quayle described those challenges.
DAN QUAYLE: When you elect a President of the United States you better have someone that understands what foreign policy is all about. We have paid a very big price these last seven years by having a president that really has not paid too much attention until these last couple years -- look at what has happened we have essentially invaded seven different countries. Is Haiti really -- what's going on down there -- Bosnia, Kosovo, now East Timor? Are these really in our vital national security interest? I think you would agree with me that we should respond when it is in our vital national security interests and as commander and chief, if I get that opportunity I will let the American military know that is the only time I will put them in harm's way. Now I would be more than happy to take some questions--
AUDIENCE MEMBER: How do you get people to focus on the family values issue in an economy that is distracting them?
DAN QUAYLE: When I brought this up in 1992 it became quite controversial. To this day I have a difficult time really comprehending why. Now I did mention a one particular TV sitcom in that speech and I just wanted to see if the media were listening -- they were. (laughter)
MARGARET WARNER: The Democrats mocked him in 1992, Quayle recalled, but by the 1996 convention, President Clinton was talking about family values.
DAN QUAYLE: He gave my speech, he literally gave the speech which shows a great turnaround, so the important thing is not necessarily the credit but the fact that we have made great progress on that.
|"The conservative alternative"|
WARNER: Quayle plans to campaign in New Hampshire through this weekend.
For more, we turn to Dan Balz of the Washington Post. The NewsHour's working
with the Post in covering the 2000 presidential race. Dan was traveling
with Quayle today, and he's in Manchester, New Hampshire, this evening.
Welcome, Dan. It's a crowded field of Republicans up there in New Hampshire.
From what you heard today, how is Quayle trying to distinguish himself
from the others, set himself apart?
DAN BALZ: Margaret, like a number of other candidates, he's trying to become the conservative alternative to Texas Governor George W. Bush. So, first of all, he's stressing his conservative pedigree and trying to show people that he has a longer record of fighting for conservative causes than most others in this race and that he has some of the scars to prove it, as he mentioned with that Murphy Brown case. But, second, he's also talking about some of his establishment characteristics that he's served in the House and the Senate, that he's served as Vice President, that he has the experience that some of the other candidates don't have. And, thirdly, he's talking very much about foreign policy, as your piece showed; that he has experience in foreign policy that nobody else has. In short, if you put it altogether, what he's trying to say is that he's the most conservative candidate with the most complete record or most complete package as a candidate to offer to people.
MARGARET WARNER: And from what you've seen out there, how do voters respond to this?
DAN BALZ: I guess I would say politely but not enthusiastically. He was at a breakfast group this morning. It's a kind of a regular stop for candidates here in New Hampshire; it's called Politics and Eggs. And it's mostly a business community group. I think people there, as in many other Republican audiences, like Dan Quayle, I think a lot of them feel that he got kind of a bum rap, certainly in 1988, when he was introduced to the American people, and kind of got pummeled in the press. But they don't seem hungry to know a lot more about Dan Quayle; you don't sense enthusiasm or great excitement that surrounds him when he enters a room, or when he talks to a crowd.
MARGARET WARNER: And there is - I know -- a lot of polling going on in New Hampshire - and the voters are being besieged by all these candidates. Can you tell if he's making any headway yet, now that he's putting all his chips on the state?
|Single-digit poll numbers|
BALZ: Well, at this point you would have to say he's made no real headway.
There are three recent polls that have come out here in New Hampshire
within the last several weeks. And in each case he is in single digits,
sometimes low single digits, and he runs about sixth of all the candidates,
so at this point he has a long way to go. Now, his own campaign says he
has not devoted that much time to New Hampshire, that, in reality, it's
still early up here, and that he has the opportunity through spending
a lot of time here to make those poll numbers look a lot different by
MARGARET WARNER: How do he and his strategists explain the fact - I mean, he is a former Vice President but he is having so much trouble getting traction.
DAN BALZ: I think they're very frank about it, and frankly very realistic about it. They say people -- it's not a problem of experience -- it's not a problem of ideology -- it's not a problem of whether people like him; it's simply a problem of people don't think that Dan Quayle can win the nomination, or particularly win the presidency. And the Vice President made that clear in the piece that he has to do very well. In order to get over that, he has to show that he can win. And that's why they've decided to concentrate their resources and their time here in New Hampshire. They think that the terrain here offers them the best opportunity to break through, but they know that if they don't, that if they don't come in first or a very competitive second here, that that's the ball game.
MARGARET WARNER: Does he express - from what you've heard - does he ever express personal frustration with his sort of situation? I know you had an interview with him today.
DAN BALZ: When I talked to him today, he didn't express frustration. I know he has in the past. One of our correspondents, Kevin Merritt, had talked to him before the Iowa Straw Poll, and the frustration came out in that interview. But, in many ways, when you see him on the stump, he doesn't exhibit or let that frustration show. What he's trying to say to audiences is that, I'm a former Vice President, I've been there, I've been around the track, I know what to do, so that the degree to which there is frustration - and clearly there is - that he hasn't been able to kind of coalesce any part of the Republican base around his candidacy yet - he hides it pretty well as a candidate.
|The press attention|
MARGARET WARNER: Is he accessible to the press? He's had a contentious history with the press.
DAN BALZ: He has had a contentious history with the press, but he is very accessible. I think partly it's his strategy. The more publicity he gets, the more opportunity he gets to have people see him now in 1999 or 2000, the more he hopes they will see a different Dan Quayle, and so he doesn't hide out; he's not particularly defensive. I know that when people at the Post have tried to reach him on the phone, he's readily accessible. Today it didn't take a lot of effort to try to get him, and he did a number of standup interviews with reporters after the breakfast this morning in Bedford, so he's pretty accessible.
MARGARET WARNER: Finally, Dan, there was one piece - I think it was in your rival, the New York Times - that suggested he was really looking for personal vindication. Does that come through at all?
DAN BALZ: I think that's very much a part of what this campaign is about, Margaret. I've talked to other Republicans who are convinced that part of the reason Dan Quayle is running and one of the reasons that he gave no real thought to dropping out after his poor finish in Iowa is that he wants to change his image with the American people; he wants to come out of this with an enhanced reputation. And, frankly, he won't be able to do that until we get to the point where he's on the stage with the other candidates, where he engages in debates with the other candidates, where the public measures him one to one with his rivals. I think he feels if he can get into that situation, people will come away with a different view of him.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Well, Dan, thanks very much.
DAN BALZ: Thank you, Margaret.
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