After being kept at arm’s length from George Bush throughout the presidential campaign, Vice President-elect Dan Quayle prepared Wednesday for an uncertain future in an ill-defined job.
Only hours after delivering his acceptance speech, Quayle arrived early in the morning at the Washington townhouse that will serve as his transition headquarters and pledged to “get things rolling.” Through an aide, he said he would give up his Senate duties shortly, resigning his seat within a month to allow outgoing Republican Gov. Robert D. Orr to appoint a replacement.
But Quayle also spent part of the morning watching on a hand-held television as his new boss, President-elect Bush, turned noncommittal in his first news conference when questioned about what Quayle’s role would be.
When Quayle journeyed later to Andrews Air Force Base to help welcome Bush home, it marked the first time in six weeks that he had been invited to meet face-to-face with Bush. The President-elect praised Quayle for emerging strong from his “baptism by fire,” but he did not ask his running mate to speak publicly.
Quayle Heads Home
And at the end of the day, while Bush stayed on after a White House ceremony to discuss briefly with President Reagan his plans for the next Administration, Quayle headed home.
There have been no such discussions between Bush and Quayle, leaving Quayle unable to answer questions about what he will do for the next four years. Both men attribute the lack of planning to preoccupation with the election, and Quayle has said he was unconcerned about his own stature.
“The vice president submerges himself and implements the policies of the President,” he told reporters Tuesday as his campaign plane returned to Washington. “That becomes your sole goal and your challenge in the job.”
But advisers to Quayle say that he was privately apprehensive that he might be pushed aside by the same hostile Bush aides who never wanted Quayle on the ticket in the first place and might view his soaring unfavorability ratings as vindication.
“It’s going to be tough for him,” one senior aide worried aloud on election night.
To Direct Space Panel
There appears no obstacle to Quayle serving--as Bush has promised--as director of the National Space Council, a largely powerless panel that coordinates space policy.
But Quayle has also expressed an expectation that Bush would ask him to help in the formulation of national security policy.
Publicly, Bush has not committed himself on the subject. He indicated in a television interview last week that he “might” appoint his vice president to head the White House Crisis Management Team, as Bush had done. And he made clear in his news conference Wednesday that Quayle would be given access to classified national security documents.
But aides to Quayle say that unofficial word has already been passed from Bush headquarters that Quayle’s national security responsibilities will be minimal. In particular, they said, he will be asked to play a smaller role on the National Security Council than Bush did.
The prospect of Quayle’s assuming another major role--as the coordinator of the nation’s anti-drug efforts--has meanwhile been confounded by new legislation that establishes a Cabinet-level drug czar but declares that the vice president may not hold the position. Quayle could now hope only for shared responsibility, one aide said.
Bush, Quayle to Meet
Whether Quayle is delegated additional responsibilities to fill the void may be considered as early as today, when he and Bush are expected to discuss for the first time what Quayle’s role will be.
In the long term, however, whatever power he maintains is likely to depend in large part on the influence his aides can wield in dealings with their counterparts in the White House. In his three months on the campaign trail, Quayle has traveled with a team of experienced advisers appointed by the Bush campaign. But now that the election is over, most members of that team have quickly distanced themselves from the vice president-elect.
Three of his five top aides--former White House political director Mitchell Daniels, speech writer Ken Khachigian and issues adviser James Ciccone--have already returned to the private sector. Scheduler Lanny Wiles is likely to do the same. Only Press Secretary David Prosperi has expressed even mild interest in staying with Quayle.
That leaves Quayle so far with a transition staff managed by Indianapolis lawyer Dan Evans and Tom Duesterberg, Quayle’s administrative assistant in the Senate. Although both are well-regarded, some of the departing aides hope Quayle can persuade an experienced Bush adviser to serve as his chief of staff.
“If he doesn’t,” one aide said, “he’ll disappear from the radar screen.”