Dogged by negative reaction to his performance in this week’s debate, Dan Quayle sought Friday to remain upbeat, saying he was “delighted to be the lightning rod for the campaign.”
“I’m perfectly willing to take the heat instead of letting the target be George Bush,” the Republican vice presidential candidate told reporters here. Smiling wryly, he said: “That is my new assignment, and I’m willing to take it on very energetically.”
Quayle dismissed as desperate the new Democratic advertisements that question whether he is qualified for high office. “They obviously don’t have anything bad to say about George Bush,” he said earlier in Chattanooga, Tenn., “and that’s fine with me.
“George Bush is going to be the next President of the United States because the voters will vote for him .”
Quayle’s bravado notwithstanding, that emphasis underscored the hope of his campaign that the political focus would soon shift back to the top of the ticket. That hope seemed to be demonstrated on Friday also by Bush, who in a busy day of campaigning made no mention whatever of his running mate.
Continuing his criticism of the press, Quayle branded as “inappropriate” the questions asked during the debate about what he would do if thrust into the presidency. And, in a fierce new attack at Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, the Indiana senator charged in speeches that the Democratic nominee “looks down on America.”
“I don’t look down upon America, and neither does George Bush,” he told students in Chattanooga. “We look up to America. We believe that America is the envy of the world.”
Asked to justify his accusation about Dukakis, Quayle suggested that liberal beliefs were inherently unpatriotic.
“In my viewpoint,” he said, “the governor himself looks down and takes a very liberal viewpoint toward America, and this is looking down on America.”
“He views America in decline and he talks about competence,” he continued. “He talks about managing the decline of America.”
Quayle wound up a two-day campaign swing in Raleigh, N. C., and headed home to Washington for a post-debate rest. He faced far more hostility on the campaign trail Friday than he had the day before.
He was jeered loudly outside a limited-access rally at Chattanooga State Technical College by dozens of demonstrators carrying signs saying “Quayle’s no J.F.K.,” and “He’s not Quayleified.”