WASHINGTON — Vice President-elect Dan Quayle, wooed by members of his party's right wing since the election, said Wednesday that he will not be their "so-called spear carrier" in the Bush Administration.
Quayle also hinted during an interview with the Associated Press that he may spend more time than his predecessors in presiding over the Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats.
On a personal note, he said he had learned from the verbal gaffes he committed during the campaign to curb a tendency toward talking too much. "Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things," he said.
Strongest Public Rejection
Quayle's comments about the conservatives who have beaten a path to his transition office were his strongest public rejection of the notion that he would become a link between the Republican Party's far right and the new Administration. Quayle is an ardent conservative who has largely supported Reagan Administration positions during his eight years in the Senate.
"I've worked with a number of conservatives in the past; a lot of good friends are conservatives, but I'm not the point man for the conservatives in this Administration. . . . You won't see me being the so-called spear carrier for all the so-called conservative issues," Quayle said.
He said "there's not a penny's worth of difference in philosophy" between him and President-elect George Bush, who in the past has been perceived as more moderate.
Active Senate Role
Quayle also hinted that he may take a more active role in his official capacity as president of the Senate, presiding over the Democratic-controlled chamber more frequently. "It's certainly an option," he said.
The presiding officer has substantial discretion as to which senator to recognize for the purpose of offering amendments, bills and motions. Normally the chair is occupied by a member of the majority party. A Republican in charge could spell contention between Democrats and the Administration.
"Clearly the constitutional role of being president of the Senate is something I've got to sit down and decide on how I'm going to allocate my time. . . . There have been suggestions to me by many that I consider spending more time in the Senate than my predecessors have. I have not made a decision on that," he said.
Quayle said he and Bush have not spoken substantively about his role in the Administration, but he added that he would not mind if he has to spend time fulfilling largely ceremonial duties such as going to state funerals.
"There is ceremony for the funerals, but you can also do a lot of work. You can meet a lot of people. You can have some meetings and you'd be surprised at the kind of information and contact that is made beyond the ceremonial requirements," he said.
Quayle also said the presidential campaign, during which he made a number of celebrated gaffes and was besieged with questions about his military service, academic record and personal life, made him "a stronger person."
"I know my strengths better than when I started. I also know probably some of the weaknesses and errors that I'll have to work on," Quayle said. He said that he is "far more careful of what I say today than six months ago."
"I also try to discipline myself when I get into a situation . . . and I'm trying to think of the answer, instead of being verbose, which is a tendency that I have, to be concise. Because verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things."