Dan Quayle

Dan Quayle Biography

U.S. Senator, U.S. Vice President, U.S. Representative (1947–)
Dan Quayle was elected a U.S. congressman and senator from Indiana before serving as the 44th vice president of the United States under President George H.W. Bush.


Dan Quayle was born on February 4, 1947, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before earning election to the Senate in 1980, and in 1988 he was named running mate to Republican presidential nominee George H.W. Bush. Despite his successes, Quayle was haunted by a perception of ineptitude during the 1988 and 1992 presidential campaigns. After leaving the White House, he wrote a best-selling memoir and joined a private investment firm, among other endeavors.

Early Years

James Danforth Quayle was born on February 4, 1947, in Indianapolis, Indiana. His maternal grandfather was a wealthy newspaper publisher, and in 1955 the Quayles moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, to join the family business.

Quayle's mindset was shaped by his family and childhood environment: His parents were members of the John Birch Society, and in Scottsdale they were friendly with arch-conservative Senator Barry Goldwater.

After the family returned to Indiana in 1963 to take over publishing the Huntington Herald-Press, Quayle graduated from Huntington High School and enrolled at DePauw University. At the time, he displayed little outward interest in politics, preferring to spend much of his free time playing golf.

After graduating with a B.S. in political science in 1969, Quayle spent the remainder of the year in the National Guard. He began to take his career prospects more seriously, working multiple jobs for the state government and enrolling at Indiana University Law School, where he met fellow student Marilyn Tucker. They married in 1972, and were admitted to the Indiana bar on the same day in 1974.

U.S. Congressman and Senator

After passing the bar, the couple opened a law practice, Quayle & Quayle, though Dan primarily worked as associate publisher of the Herald-Press. Initially eyeing the Indiana state legislature, Quayle instead was talked into challenging Democrat Ed Roush for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976.

Just 29, the fresh-faced political hopeful was easily dismissed by critics, but he proved adept at organizing and earned a surprising victory. In office, he introduced a term-limit bill and established his conservative chops, though he also developed a reputation for his frequent absences. Regardless, he was easily reelected to the post in 1978.

In 1980, Quayle launched a more ambitious campaign against incumbent U.S. Senator Birch Bayh. Unpolished but energetic on the trail, he struck a chord with voters weary of ongoing inflation and unemployment issues. His successful bid made him, at 33, the youngest Senator in Indiana state history.

Named to the Senate Armed Services, Budget, and Labor Committees, Quayle surprised many with his assertiveness. He became chair of the Employment and Productivity Subcommittee, through which he teamed with Massachusetts Democrat Ted Kennedy to forge the Jobs Training Partnership Act of 1982. In 1984, he took over another subcommittee tasked with reorganizing the thicket of Senate proceedings. Once again, his successes led to a landslide reelection, in 1986.

Vice President

In August 1988, Quayle became the surprise running mate for Republican presidential nominee George H.W. Bush. The alliance got off to an awkward start, and an unflattering public profile developed of Quayle being sheltered, inexperienced and unqualified for the role. The nadir came during the vice presidential debate in October, when his counterpart, Senator Lloyd Bentsen, blistered him with his famous "You are no Jack Kennedy" line. But despite the missteps, the Bush-Quayle ticket was successfully voted into the White House the following month.

Quayle dutifully upheld the public responsibilities of the No. 2 role, traveling widely and reinforcing the administration's agenda in speeches. Behind the scenes, he assembled a collection of smart staffers and set about asserting his own conservative ambitions. As chair of the little-known but powerful Council on Competitiveness, he was able to scale back environmental regulations he felt were a threat to businesses and farmers. He also proved a capable broker between the White House and angry House Republicans after President Bush reneged on his "no new taxes" pledge.

However, when it came time for reelection, the caricature of the inept vice president again bubbled to the surface. Quayle was derided for attacking the single motherhood portrayed on the TV sitcom Murphy Brown, and, in a particularly embarrassing gaffe, coaxed a student into misspelling the word "potato" during a televised visit to a school. The Bush-Quayle administration ended after one term, with President Bill Clinton and VP Al Gore voted into office in 1992.

Post-White House

Following the whirlwind of public office, Quayle wrote a memoir, Standing Firm, which became a best seller upon its 1994 publication. He went on to write two more books: The American Family (1996) and Moments That Matter (1999).

Quayle became chairman of Campaign America, a conservative political action group, and flirted with running for the presidency in 1996 and 2000. Along with overseeing his law firm, he served as a distinguished visiting professor of international studies at Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management, and joined the board of the private investment firm Cerberus.

Meanwhile, the Huntington-based Dan Quayle Center and Museum, which opened to the public in 1993, became The Quayle Vice Presidential Learning Center in 2008. In 2010, the former VP’s younger son, Ben, was elected a U.S. congressman from Arizona.

In 2016, Quayle resurfaced to express his support of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump. Following Trump's victory in November, he was spotted visiting the President-elect at Trump Tower in New York City, fueling speculation about a return to public office.

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