DAN QUAYLE: Late Bloomer

Dan Quayle spent much of his life blissfully AWOL from history, a huge handicap even for a faster learner than he has given evidence of being

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The idea of Quayle's passive role in this beauty-queen audition is also overstated. Helmke remembers that Quayle was out in his journalist's role observing his own campaign and Richard Lugar's unsuccessful run against Birch Bayh in the 1974 Senate race. Helmke was surprised when Quayle asked foreign policy questions in those local races. And two years later, when Helmke showed Quayle around Roush's district, they were not looking for swords to fall on.

Nor did talent scouts have to prod Quayle into his 1980 campaign against Birch Bayh. He aggressively sought a conflict in which the odds were longer against him than they had been four years earlier with Roush. When the golf coach, Katula, asked why he would risk a safe House seat on such a race, Quayle told him, "Coach, we're just going to have to work harder."

He campaigned in all 92 counties of the state. He defused the age issue by saying, over and over, "Birch Bayh was almost the same age when he beat Homer Capehart." (This ploy would backfire when Quayle used a similar line about John Kennedy in 1988.) When Bayh accused him of extremism, Quayle distanced himself from the ads being run against Bayh by the National Conservative Political Action Committee, telling the Washington lobbyists, "Your negative campaign will allow him ((Bayh)) to allege that outsiders are trying to tell the people of Indiana how to vote." Quayle resigned from the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress because it was trying to purge third-party presidential candidate John Anderson from the Republican party. He ran an ideological campaign but with just enough touches of pragmatism.

Quayle is not interested in lost causes. (Maybe it was fitting that he not go to Viet Nam?) In this he resembles his grandfather, who constantly frustrated his conservative editors. Eugene Pulliam, says Stan Evans, "was a seat-of-the-pants guy, unpredictable." Jameson Campaigne Jr., whose father edited the Indianapolis Star for Pulliam, says, "He ((Pulliam)) was not a conservative; he was a Methodist -- a good government type. That is why he opposed Jenner and the corrupt Republicans in Indiana."

Pulliam bought 51 newspapers in his career, but most of them were small-town papers, and he had a small-town approach to government. It is not surprising that he settled in Lebanon, a little community that is almost an annex to its golf course. Pulliam believed in paternalistic civic improvement, where business, politics and journalism unite to clean up a town and then run it for its own good. He clashed early in his career with the Klan, lax liquor laws and prostitution.

When he got involved in national politics, it was as a pragmatist. He joined Eisenhower in 1952 against the Taft conservatives. He joined Lyndon Johnson in 1964 against Goldwater, whom he had helped draw into politics in order to "clean up" Phoenix. He went back to the Republicans in 1968 and stuck with Nixon. Quayle's father rebelled against both Eisenhower and Nixon by supporting Birch and Ashbrook -- lost causes. Pulliam had no more use for the Birchers than for Klansmen.

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