A beaming Dan Quayle left the agony of a harsh campaign behind him and basked in the ecstasy of victory today as his supporters hailed him as the next vice president of the United States.
“We will never forget this night,” the 41-year-old Indiana senator declared as he stood, flanked by his wife and three young children, before a triumphant Republican celebration in a massive hotel ballroom here early this morning.
Preparing to assume the nation’s second-highest office, Quayle pledged that the nation “need never question” his devotion. “I not only will bring you two committed hands to take up the toll,” he declared, “but all of my heart.”
“I know that my obligations to America, to our Constitution and to our people are sacred,” he said. “The vice presidency is not a job. It is a trust created by each of you. I will never violate that trust.”
The vice presidential campaign had been marked by its focus on whether Quayle was qualified to assume office, but the buoyant candidate made no mention of his struggles. He called instead for the nation to rally behind its next leader, saying: “It is ours to fall behind George Bush as President, to give him the fullest measure of our assurance and commitment as he assumes the mantle of the most important position on this earth.”
Quiet Election Day Routine
Hours earlier, in his small hometown of Huntington, Ind., Quayle had stuck to the quiet Election Day routine that had accompanied his success in every contest since his political debut 12 years ago. He went to the dentist, cast his vote in the county courthouse, and stopped by Nick’s Kitchen for a cup of coffee and a chat.
But things weren’t the same, and Dan Quayle knew it. So while Secret Service men kept crowds at bay and television crews pressed their cameras to the glass, Quayle talked to friends and former neighbors of a quieter time.
Tells of Earlier Visit
He stood behind the counter at Nick’s and told of visiting the cafe three years ago, when he was still a little-known junior senator. A fellow coffee-drinker, Quayle remembered, had “looked at me and he says, ‘You look familiar.’ And I says, ‘Well, I’m Dan Quayle.’ And he says, ‘Oh. Yeah. So, what are you doing these days?’ ”
After 11 whirlwind weeks as the Republican vice presidential nominee, Quayle knew Tuesday that his days of obscurity were long past. For better or for worse, voters across the country had come to know who Dan Quayle was.
Cheers From the Faithful
In Huntington Tuesday, there were exuberant cheers and shouts from the hometown faithful as Quayle and his wife, Marilyn, walked hand-in-hand down the main street. But the local Democratic headquarters blared a taunting anti-Quayle tune, “I Fought the War in Indiana,” and Secret Service agents were edgy after a caller made a telephoned threat against the senator. A senior adviser, meanwhile, conceded that Quayle had been ordered away from hotly contested states in the campaign’s final week because internal polls showed that his unfavorability ratings had soared to unprecedented levels.
And so the mood Tuesday was a bit bittersweet as Quayle took his leave of Huntington and returned to Washington to await the results of the election that would make him the next vice president.
When he was last home, townspeople had defended Quayle against the national press, jeering as reporters interrogated him in a news conference amplified by a public address system.
On Tuesday they shouted “We Want Dan” and “Dan’s Our Man,” but there was little of the overt hostility toward the press. It was as if Quayle had entered a different realm, no longer the Huntington boy to be defended by the neighbors, but a hero who had withstood the storm and was moving on to bigger things.
“From Nick’s Kitchen to the White House,” read a widely worn button.
Expressing gratitude for the “outpouring” of affection shown to him, the vice presidential candidate spoke with apparent longing of his “fond memories of this small, rural community.”
“What you see is what it is,” Quayle said. “There are no surprises here.”
With the campaign over except for the voting, Quayle was outwardly confident but displayed a few Election Day jitters. “When people go into the voting booth, only they know how they’re going to vote . . . " he said. “And though we have our hopes and aspirations, nobody knows.”
Confident of victory, Quayle expressed a determination to “look forward, not backward” after the election. He suggested that his contribution be measured by the Republicans’ rapid comeback in the polls since he joined the ticket in August. But it was clear that a stormy campaign and critical news coverage had left enduring scars.
“It’s been a great ride,” Quayle told reporters on the final flight of his campaign plane, “Hoosier Pride,” from Indianapolis to Washington. Then he paused. “Some days greater than others.”
When Quayle donned a reporter’s Michael Dukakis mask and photographers began to snap pictures, his wife grew perturbed by his fraternization. “That’s enough, Dan,” she said through gritted teeth. Trying to be gracious, she told the traveling press corps that the Quayles would presume that “all the inaccurate reporting” had come from others.
In his conversation with reporters, Quayle blamed his wounded public image on "$5 million in negative advertising” by the Democrats, and noted that the Republicans had spent “not a penny” in response. Their priority, he said, had been to win the election for Vice President Bush.
Asked how he would now seek to repair the personal damage, Quayle suggested that he could not. “If I was concerned about shaping or reshaping my image,” he said, “I’m going into probably one of the worst offices to do that, and that is the vice president.”