Controversial vice presidential picks are nothing new in American politics, as even recent Indiana history reveals. When Republican presidential nominee George H.W. Bush announced his running mate in August 1988, Indiana Senator James Danforth Quayle faced relentless questioning from the press about his military service, personal life and leadership experience. Hardly a political newcomer by then, the Indianapolis native had served two terms in the House representing Indiana’s fourth district before winning a seat in the Senate at age 33, the youngest person ever elected to the Senate from Indiana. The grandson of publishing magnate Eugene C. Pulliam, the forty-fourth Vice President had spent part of his childhood in Arizona before returning to the Hoosier State to graduate from Huntington High School, earn a B.A. from DePauw University, and a J.D. from IU School of Law.
A hard-line conservative, Senator Quayle supported most of Ronald Reagan’s policies, while blocking presidential vetoes of bills providing job training and environmental remediation. Quayle may be best remembered, however, in the context of the 1988 Vice Presidential debate, during which his opponent, Democratic Senator Lloyd Bentsen, informed him, “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
A former church in Huntington, Indiana houses the United States Vice Presidential Museum at the Dan Quayle Center, featuring exhibits about all the former holders of the nation’s second-highest office.