Former Vice President Dan Quayle was born in Indiana on February 4, 1947. Quayle, whose birth name is James Danforth Quayle, served as George H. W. Bush’s vice president from 1989 to 1993.
Bush died Friday, November 30, at the age of 94. Quayle no longer has a career in politics, but he and his wife, Marilyn, are expected to be in attendance at Bush’s funeral later on this morning.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Spoke to Fox News Shortly After Bush’s Passing
After learning that former President George H. W. Bush had died, Quayle sat down for a chat with Fox News, in which he praised his former political partner.
“George Bush was absolutely the best. He was a great individual in my opinion; he was a great president,” he told Fox News. “He loved his work. He loved the country. And it was such an honor for me to work with him every single day that he was president. The man, George Bush, was very good to me,” he added.
Quayle also penned an opinion piece for the Washington Post, in which he wrote about Bush and their relationship. The piece was published on December 1.
“Vice presidents don’t always stay on the best terms with the presidents they serve. What starts out as partly a political calculation, the selection of a running mate, is by no means certain to mature into [a] warm friendship. In our case, what made all the difference was a few choices we made early—and the character of Bush himself,” he wrote.
2. He Served as Vice President From 1989 to 1993
In 1976, Quayle was elected to the House of Representatives from Indiana’s 4th congressional district. He won reelection in 1978. Two years later, Quayle became the youngest person ever elected to the Senate from the state of Indiana, at the age of 33. He was re-elected in 1986.
Quayle was Bush’s running mate on the 1988 ticket. The decision was made official on August 16, 1988, at the Republican convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“I’m proud to have Dan Quayle at my side,” Bush said at the time. Perhaps unsurprising, Bush’s decision to run with Quayle was highly criticized by the media. Despite the seemingly constant negative chatter about Quayle, the Republican ticket held a solid lead over Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen throughout the campaign.
Bush/Quayle won the November election with a 53–46 percent margin, securing 426 electoral votes.
Despite winning the election alongside Bush, Quayle received a great deal of criticism throughout his four years in office. Perhaps one of his most notable statements came in 1992, when he said that homosexuality was a “choice.”
“My viewpoint is that it’s more of a choice than a biological situation. I think it is a wrong choice. It is a wrong… it is a wrong choice. I do believe in most cases it certainly is a choice,” Quayle said during a sit-down interview on ABC’s This Week, according to the New York Times.
Despite Quayle’s controversial statements, he held a few positions of note. For example, Bush named Quayle head of the Council on Competitiveness and the first chairman of the National Space Council.
3. He Is Married to His Wife, Marilyn, & Has 3 Grown Children With Her
Quayle and his wife, Marilyn, whose nickname is Merit, got married in November 1972. Marilyn Quayle, nee Tucker, was also born in Indiana. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science from Purdue University and went on to earn a J.D. at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Whilst in law school, Marilyn met her now-husband.
“We started out as colleagues. I became a very integral part of what Dan was doing legislative-wise,” Mrs. Quayle told the Los Angeles Times back in 1988.
Quayle has called his wife his “best adviser,” as well as “a very strong, independent-minded woman.”
The Quayles have three grown children together, Tucker, Benjamin, and Corinne. Tucker Quayle founded an investment company called Tynwald Capital, while Benjamin followed in his dad’s footsteps and served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District from 2011 to 2013.
These days, the Quayles call Paradise Valley, Arizona, home.
4. He Obtained a Law Degree From the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1974
When he was young, Quayle moved to Arizona with his family — parents Martha Corinne and James Cline Quayle. He moved back to Indiana just in time for high school, graduating from Huntington North High School, before heading off to college.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from DePauw University in 1969. He then joined the Indiana Army National Guard and served from 1969–1975, reaching the rank of sergeant. Simultaneously, he studied at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, obtaining his J.D. Degree in 1974.
Quayle wrote his first memoir in 1994. Standing Firm quickly became a best seller. His second book, The American Family: Discovering the Values that Make Us Strong, was published in 1996 and a third book, Worth Fighting For, was published in 1999.
He currently serves as the chairman of global investments at Cerberus Capital Management.
5. He Was Ridiculed for His Error in a 1992 Spelling Bee
During a June 1992, stop in Trenton, New Jersey, to promote President Bush’s “Weed and Seed” initiative to rebuild struggling cities, Vice President Quayle committed an error, for which he is mocked to this day. During a spelling bee at Muñoz Rivera Elementary School, Quayle erroneously instructed a 12-year-old student to add the letter “e” to the end of his correct spelling of the word, “potato.”
As you can see in the video above, the child, named William Figueroa, correctly writes out potato, in cursive, before erasing it. Upon his rewriting it, Quayle tells him to “Add a little bit to the end there,” saying, “You’re right, phonetically.”
“‘I knew he was wrong, really,’ the boy explained later. ‘He’s the Vice President and I couldn’t argue with him with all the people there,'” according to the New York Times.
Quayle claimed he fell victim to the school’s cue cards, to which he deferred rather than his own reasoning.
“It was more than a gaffe. It was a ‘defining moment’ of the worst imaginable kind. I can’t overstate how discouraging and exasperating the whole event was,” Quayle wrote in his memoir, according to Newsweek.