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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Some mistook Pulliam for an ideologue because his pragmatic political stands mattered as much to him as the papers' income. He defied advertisers over matters like liquor licensing and a Phoenix beltway, favored by the business establishment, which he helped defeat. He was prickly about his independence and about that of his family and loved institutions. He resigned from the board of DePauw when the school refused to turn down federal money with strings attached. His own children and heirs were expected to work; the money he left them is tied up, dependent on their performance on the newspapers.

Pulliam gave the readiest daily sign of his competitiveness on the golf course. He learned in Lebanon how to talk with the city establishment on the links, and he set a Quayle family pattern of buying homes that overlook the fairways. He liked year-round golfing, so he left Lebanon in the winter, first for Florida, then for Phoenix. He was an advocate of improvement, tourism and more golf courses for Phoenix long before he bought his paper there. The Phoenix course on which Quayle learned to play is nestled among a dozen or so clubs, their bright green carpets dramatic against the pebbly desert.

Quayle was such a natural golfer that his grandfather soon liked having him for a partner. The Pulliams read character on the golf course. The DePauw coach admires the nerve, even the courage, of Quayle's game. "He likes the heat of battle." He claims that Quayle rises to challenge, takes chances but keeps his head. Could Quayle beat his old coach, who stays in shape and plays constantly? "By the 16th hole, conversation would be at a minimum."

Quayle's competitiveness appealed to Roger Ailes, who handled him in his 1986 re-election race for the Senate. Quayle's record in debates was good until he met Lloyd Bentsen. He debated Roush five times in 1976 and Bayh once in 1980. The general view was that both men underestimated him and were beaten by him. Dan Evans, Quayle's 1980 manager, says he was effective against Bayh because he was not being "handled," as in 1988 -- the Nancy Reagan excuse about debate "overpreparation." But Quayle needed help in 1988, when he was on the defensive from the outset. Indiana reporters say that even now he has not regained the confidence and ease he showed in his earlier campaigns.

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