Dan Quayle

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You’re close, but you left a little something off. The 'e' on the end.
Lancaster was actually the capital of our nation for one day in 1977.

James Danforth "Dan" Quayle (born 4 February 1947) is a former United States Representative, Senator, the 44th Vice President of the United States (1989–1993), and a minor candidate for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination. After retiring from politics, he became the chairman of Cerberus Capital Management.

Although many of Quayle's remarks that were reported as gaffes can be verified, several others are difficult to verify. This is partly due to the echo chamber effect of writers who copy quotations from other writers without a direct citation. Adding to the problem, many quotations that were once attributed to Quayle (whether accurately or not) have since been attributed both privately and in print to Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Al Gore, and John Kerry. Even publishers that might normally be considered trustworthy have stumbled where Quayle quotations are involved.[1]


  • Let me just tell you how thrilling it really is, and how, what a challenge it is, because in 1988 the question is whether we're going forward to tomorrow or whether we're going to go past to the back! … That's a Hoosierism. You've got to get used to that!
    • Speech to California delegates to the Republican National Convention (17 August 1988)
  • Bobby Knight told me this: "There is nothing that a good defense—cannot beat a better offense." In other words a good offense wins.
    • Speech to the City Club of Chicago (8 September 1988)
  • The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. [followup] No, not our nation's, but in World War II. I mean, we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century, but in this century's history.
    • Press conference (15 September 1988), paraphrased in Esquire, 8/92, The New Yorker, 10/10/88, p. 102.
  • It is not just age; it's accomplishments, it's experience. I have far more experience than many others that sought the office of vice president of this country. I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency. I will be prepared to deal with the people in the Bush administration, if that unfortunate event would ever occur.
  • In George Bush you get experience, and with me you get the future.
    • Speech in Illinois (October 1988), quoted in Cathleen Decker (1988-10-19), "Quayle, in Illinois, Says He's `the Future'" Los Angeles Times
  • People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history.
    • Interview with Hendrik Hertzburg (October 1988), referring to Grigori Rasputin
  • We are ready for any unforseen event that may or may not occur.
    • Cited to the Cleveland Plain Dealer (27 September 1990)
  • You all look like happy campers to me. Happy campers you are, happy campers you have been, and, as far as I am concerned, happy campers you will always be.
    • Speech to American Samoans (April 1989)
  • Hawaii has always been a very pivotal role in the Pacific. It is in the Pacific. It is a part of the United States that is an island that is right here.
    • Press comment in Hawaii (25 April 1989)
  • When you take the UNCF model that, what a waste it is to lose one's mind, or not to have a mind is being very wasteful, how true that is.
    • Speech to the United Negro College Fund (9 May 1989), mangling the Fund's slogan "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."
  • The other day [the President] said, I know you've had some rough times, and I want to do something that will show the nation what faith that I have in you, in your maturity and sense of responsibility. Would you like a puppy?
    • cited to the Los Angeles Times (16 May 1989)
  • I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy, but that could change.
    • cited to the Wall Street Journal (26 May 1989)
  • Mars is essentially in the same orbit. … Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe.
    • Press comment on Mars exploration (11 August 1989), televised on CNN and referenced in 9/1/89 Washington Post article: "A Quayle Vision of Mars")
  • I have been asked who caused the riots and the killing in L.A., my answer has been direct and simple: Who is to blame for the riots? The rioters are to blame. Who is to blame for the killings? The killers are to blame. Yes, I can understand how people were shocked and outraged by the verdict in the Rodney King trial. But there is simply no excuse for the mayhem that followed.
    • Speech to the Commonwealth Club of California (19 May 1992)
  • Our policies must be premised on, and must reinforce, values such as family, hard work, integrity and personal responsibility.
    • Speech to the Commonwealth Club of California (19 May 1992)
  • Bearing babies irresponsibly is simply wrong. We must be unequivocal about this. It doesn't help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown — a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman — mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another "lifestyle choice."
    • Speech to the Commonwealth Club of California (19 May 1992)
  • This is what I say about the scorn of the media elite: I wear their scorn as a badge of honor.
    • Speech to the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis (9 June 1992)
  • You’re close, but you left a little something off. The 'e' on the end.
    • Luis Muñoz Rivera Elementary School in Trenton, New Jersey (15 June 1992), mistakenly correcting student William Figueroa on his spelling of "potato."
  • He went to the finest of private schools, and I am a public school graduate. Given the poor state of public schools it is obvious why everybody makes all those jokes about me.
    • About Al Gore, (Newsweek, 1 September 1992)
  • I believe that I've made good judgments in the past, and I think I've made good judgments in the future.
  • We don't want to go back to tomorrow, we want to move forward.
  • We understand the importance of having the bondage between the parent and the child.
  • The future will be better tomorrow.
  • I was known as the chief graverobber of my state.
  • This is where the Continental Congress met over two hundred years ago during the American Revolution. So, Lancaster was actually the capital of our nation for one day in 1977.
  • I had a good political career, and I have a good business career. I didn't get the brass ring, but I did very well.
    • Interview with Cathleen Decker (5 September 2008) "Before Sarah Palin, the GOP had Dan Quayle", Los Angeles Times


  • I also try to discipline myself when I get into a situation … and I'm trying to think of an answer, instead of being verbose, which is a tendency that I have, to be concise. Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.
    • Quoted in the Los Angeles Times (30 October 1988), attributed to an earlier Associated Press interview
  • If we do not succeed, then we run the risk of failure.
    • Attributed to a speech in Phoenix, Arizona to the Phoenix Republican Forum (23 March 1990), quoted in Esquire (August 1992)
  • For NASA, space is still a high priority.
    • Remarks to NASA employees, 9/5/90 (reported in Esquire, 8/92)
  • What we have here is clear-cut evidence that illegitimacy—something I've always said we should talk about in terms of not having it—leads to drug abuse.
    • Remarks (20 May 1992), quoted in Esquire (August 1992) and Ann Beatts (23 November 1997) "ABSURDUM; Murphy Brown's Got Dan All Fired Up Again," Los Angeles Times
  • I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix.
    • Although Quayle's home town is in Arizona, it is only a two and a half hour drive from the California border.
  • My friends, no matter how rough the road may be, we can and we will never surrender to what is right.
    • In a speech to the Christian Coalition
  • We're going to have the best educated American people in the world.
  • One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Vice President, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.
    • Attributed in the Quayle Quarterly, a short-lived publication about Quayle's gaffes
  • It's wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago.
    • If Quayle said this, he would only be repeating a phrase that first appeared in print approximately 100 years earlier. See: Staff writer (13 May 1889) "The Great State of Chicago," Chicago Daily Tribune; Staff writer (13 April 1895) "The State of Chicago," New York Times; Norman Mailer (1968) Miami and the Siege of Chicago


  • Welcome to President Bush, Mrs. Bush, and my fellow astronauts.
    • Video footage shows Quayle saying:
      • Thank you very much Bob, Mr. President, Mrs. Bush, Dick Truly and fellow astronauts, and ladies and gentlemen.


  • Republicans have been accused of abandoning the poor. It's the other way around. They never vote for us.
  • It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.
  • The best thing about the Middle East is that is keeps the Far East and Near East from encroaching on each other.
  • I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn't study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people.
    • U.S. Representative Claudine Schneider (RI) telling an admitted joke about Quayle
    • "Quayle Quotes", Urban Legends Reference Pages

Quotes about Quayle[edit]

  • He's a very different man than the intellectual midget that has been portrayed in much of the media.… I think he's going to make an excellent Vice President, and I believe that he's going to be a popular Vice President just as soon as the people of this country see him as he is.
  • Dan Quayle is all three! All three! Stupid, full of shit, and fucking nuts! And where did he get that wife of his? Have you taken a good look at that Marilyn Quayle? Where did he get her, at a Halloween party or something? She looks like Prince Charles, for Christ's sake!
    • George Carlin, in George Carlin: Doing It Again (1990 TV Special)
  • Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.
    • Senator Lloyd Bentsen, during the October 5, 1988 United States vice-presidential debate


  1. For example, the 2002 Oxford Dictionary of Phrase includes a list of supposed "Bushisms," some of which were previously attributed to Quayle.

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