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Dan Quayle

(b. 1947)


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(b. Indianapolis, 4 Feb. 1947)

US; US Senator for Indiana 1981–9, Vice-President 1989–93 Educated at De Pauw University in Indianapolis, Quayle worked in the family newspaper business in Indiana. In 1974 he was elected to the US House of Representatives at the age of 27. In 1980 he ran for the Senate at the age of 33 and defeated the incumbent liberal Democrat Birch Bayh. In 1986 he was easily re-elected to the Senate. From a wealthy background, he took a conservative standpoint on most issues. He was representative of the younger, conservative Republicans who came to dominate the Republican Party in the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1988 he was selected by George Bush as the vice-presidential candidate on the Republican ticket. Aged 39, his youth and conservative outlook gave him strong credentials for this selection. In the campaign, however, he was inept, and his image was destroyed. A series of campaign gaffes won him a reputation of stupidity, while his Democratic rival for the vice-presidency, Senator Lloyd Bentsen, made him look foolish and unsuited for such high office. Though elected Vice-President on the successful Bush-Quayle Republican ticket in 1988, he failed to throw off his image as an inept bumbler. He had little influence as Vice-President. He was not close to President Bush and he was openly despised by some of Bush's closest advisers, such as Secretary of State James Baker. Bush considered replacing him as vice-presidential candidate in 1992 but renominated him out of fear of offending conservatives and splitting the Republican Party by dumping him. In the 1992 campaign he compared unfavourably to his Democratic rival, Albert Gore. With the Republican defeat in the presidential election of 1992, he resumed his career in the family newspaper business in Indiana.

From a privileged background, with boyish charm and good looks, he enjoyed a glitteringly successful early career, winning election to the House and Senate at a remarkably young age and becoming an influential voice of youthful conservative Republicanism. He advanced too far too fast, however, and, as one of the least successful vice-presidents in the history of the United States, he became a figure of ridicule. He published his view of his career and philosophy of government in Standing Firm: A Vice-Presidential Memoir (1995).

Subjects: Politics.


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