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Campaign Becomes Confrontation With Past : Privilege, Wealth Shaped Quayle

August 21, 1988|RICHARD E. MEYER and HENRY WEINSTEIN | Times Staff Writers

GREENCASTLE, Ind. — During Danny Quayle's first semester at DePauw University, a professor rejected one of his papers because it assumed that Alger Hiss was guilty. Danny called his father. His father told him to resubmit the paper the way it was. If they won't take it, he said, "we'll find you another college."

In the summer of Danny's junior year at DePauw, he wanted to work for Richard M. Nixon. Again, he called his father. His father spoke to Richard G. Kleindienst, who would someday become Nixon's attorney general. That summer, Danny Quayle chauffeured Nixon campaign officials around Miami at the Republican National Convention.

A year later, Danny was about to become eligible for the draft. War raged in Vietnam. Once more, he called his father. His father talked to at least one family employee who was a general in the Indiana National Guard. After half a year of active duty in North Carolina and Maryland, Danny Quayle spent his hitch putting out news summaries, press releases and a magazine called the Indiana National Guardsman.

Nineteen years later, Sen. James Danforth Quayle III is the Republican nominee for vice president of the United States. "Life has been very good to me," he says. "I never had to worry about where I was going to go."

Suddenly, however, Dan Quayle has worries the likes of which have never furrowed his brow. He and Vice President George Bush, the Republican nominee for President, face sharp questions about Quayle's life--and whether his experience qualifies him for the second-highest office in the land.

Mostly, it has been a good life: college, law school, love at first sight, three children. It has been a life of politics: two terms in the House of Representatives, two in the Senate. It also has been a life of privilege: He comes from a wealthy and influential family. And with very few exceptions, his values have been shaped by it. When he was growing up, his father and mother were members of the John Birch Society. Like them, he holds to the flinty conservatism of the unflinching right wing.

Dan Quayle, 41, can be a tough, hard campaigner. He has courage, as well as convictions. But this campaign, his first for national office, has become his toughest--a confrontation with his own past.

He was born in Indianapolis on Feb. 4, 1947. His mother, Corinne Pulliam, is the daughter of wealthy newspaper owner Eugene C. Pulliam, a legendary figure in Indiana journalism. Dan's father is ex-Marine James Quayle, a large man with a bulldog tattooed on his right forearm.

Shortly after Danny was born, Jim Quayle moved his wife and new son to Portsmouth, Ohio, where he went to work for a small chain of newspapers. "I wanted to get my manhood," he remembers, "and show people that I didn't have to work for my father-in-law."

Nonetheless, in October of 1955, the family moved to Phoenix, and Jim Quayle went to work for the Pulliam-owned Arizona Republic and its sister newspaper, the Phoenix Gazette, as director of public relations and promotions and director of personnel. The Quaylesbought one of the first homes on the golf course at Paradise Valley Country Club, north of the city. There, using a set of his mother's clubs, Danny Quayle acquired a passion for golf that grips him to this day.

Jim and Corinne Quayle joined the John Birch Society. "I'm not ashamed of it at all," Dan's father says. They were active, went to meetings, were for fighting communists. Jim Quayle says he even met Robert Welch, the Belmont, Mass., candy maker who founded the society. "He was a brilliant man with a tremendous IQ. He was, in a way, a Nostradamus, a man whose vision has come true in some sense today. The communists are making inroads."

To Jim Quayle, meeting Welch "was like meeting the President of the United States."

Danny's high school years were interrupted when Eugene Pulliam, the family patriarch, declared that he wanted to sell his smallest newspaper--the Herald Press back in Huntington, Ind. Jim Quayle said he would buy it. So the family returned to Indiana.

In high school, Danny Quayle played golf day after day. He got his game down to a 1 or 2 handicap.

Another former student at Huntington High, Steven D. Updike, now a patrolman with the Huntington Police Department, describes Danny Quayle as "Joe Preppy." He was "the penny-loafer type with the madras shirt," remembers Updike, who says he and Danny would stop and talk in the hallways. "I don't ever recall seeing him in blue jeans."

After graduation in Huntington, he went to DePauw at Greencastle, where his grandfather and father had attended college. It was then, during the early months of his academic career, that one of Danny's professors returned a paper he had written on Hiss, a top State Department official convicted of perjury on grounds that he had lied when he denied passing secret documents to a communist spy.

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