Diplomats, U.S. Interests Often at Odds, Quayle Asserts

Times Staff Writer

Republican vice presidential nominee Dan Quayle on Saturday said U.S. diplomats often hamstring American exports and are out of touch with the needs and sentiments of most people in this country.

“I can tell you that the person in the bureaucracy of the State Department has a far different idea of what makes America tick than the average man or woman on Main Street,” Quayle said at a news conference while campaigning here.

Quayle, a conservative Indiana senator, said he did not question the sincerity or loyalty of those in the Foreign Service. But he said he often hears farmers and businessmen complain that efforts to pry open foreign markets are frustrated by a lack of cooperation from American diplomats.

Policy, Interests Intertwined


“I always had a lot of problems . . . with getting the State Department to make sure that American policy and American interests are first,” Quayle said. “From time to time you have to wonder . . . whose side they’re on.”

Quayle’s comments followed remarks Friday in which he suggested that some changes at the State Department might do wonders for American trade policy. Speaking to a farm group in Alabama, Quayle vowed vigorous efforts to eliminate trade barriers and other impediments to the sale of American goods overseas. “And we’re going to put the State Department on the side of the farmers instead of on the side of the trading partners,” he added.

When asked about that statement Saturday, Quayle said he meant no criticism of Secretary of State George P. Shultz, whom he praised as “probably one of the best” men ever to hold the job. But Quayle said the problem lay with the professional diplomats under Shultz, who often become advocates for their host country when posted overseas and develop a mind-set that puts local sensitivities ahead of American interests.

Declines to Be Specific


Asked several times to illustrate his point with specific examples, Quayle declined. But, he added: “It’s an environment and a culture that since they’re over there (they) . . . become very identified with the local people there. They become identified with other diplomats from other countries. . . . They have a different viewpoint of the world than a senator from Indiana or a vice president of the United States.

“We understand that there are certain diplomatic niceties that have to go on and the State Department is very good at those types of things. But we’re going to be very aggressive in our exports.”

Also Saturday, Quayle praised Stuart K. Spencer, his campaign manager, as a “valuable” political asset but declined comment on a report in the New Republic about Spencer’s ties to Panamanian strongman Manuel A. Noriega.

In its latest edition, the magazine said Noriega paid more than $350,000 to Spencer’s Orange County-based consulting firm to lobby Congress and the Reagan Administration on his behalf in 1985 and 1986. Among the problems with which the firm dealt were federal investigations into Noriega’s ties to Central American drug-running operations, the magazine alleged. Noriega was subsequently indicted on federal drug-trafficking charges, but has refused to step down as his country’s de facto military ruler.


Not Seen With Entourage

Spencer, a prominent Republican political consultant, had been active in the presidential campaign of Vice President George Bush before being assigned by the Bush camp to direct Quayle’s election effort. Spencer accompanied Quayle during his first week on the campaign trail, but he has been missing from the senator’s campaign entourage since the magazine story appeared.

When asked if he still felt comfortable about the management of his campaign, Quayle said that he knew little about Spencer but thought highly of his political judgment.

“I met Stu Spencer for the first time, I believe, two or three weeks ago--whenever I was nominated for vice president,” Quayle said. “He has a very good reputation as far as being a political pro. His political advice is something that I have accepted and something that I believe that has been good political advice. I did not know about this (the Noriega connection). . . . I believe that his political experience and political guidance has been and will be valuable to me.”