George Bush photo

News Conference by Vice President Bush and Senator Dan Quayle

August 17, 1988

I have a brief opening statement and then I'll ask Senator Quayle to make a comment or two and then I'll be glad to take questions and so will he.

The first thing I want to do is just say how horrible I feel about that tragedy in Pakistan this morning. As most of you know, the Government of Pakistan announced the death of President Zia. He was a friend of mine and Barbara's and been extraordinarily hospitable to us on more than one occasion.

What it was was a transport plane of the Pakistan Air Force carrying him and our Ambassador, Arnie Raphel, and it exploded this morning, 7:30 A.M., our time, Eastern daylight time.

A second American - not - may not confirm, also was lost in the incident.

The Government of Pakistan has formed an advisory council to oversee the transition, following President Zia's death. An Acting President has been appointed.

Pakistan and the United States have a very special relationship and the loss of General Zia is a great tragedy.

Our Ambassador, Arnie Raphel, an outstanding Ambassador - I knew him well and Barbara and I express our most sincere regrets to the families.

After the excitement of yesterday, I wanted to give everybody a chance to meet our unified Republican ticket.

Senator Quayle is one of the rising stars in the Republican Party. In fact, the National Journal called him a Senate success story. And I asked him to be my running mate for three main reasons:

First, and most importantly, he's qualified. He's distinguished himself in the Senate as the author of the Job Training Partnership Act. He's an expert on defense and national security. And he's worked hard to increase our farm exports. He knows the agricultural business well.

And secondly, we agree on the fundamental challenges that face this country - how to create jobs by keeping taxes low, how to keep America strong and secure as we work for peace and how to create opportunities for American families.

And while a Midwesterner, I believe he will help our cause in every part of the country because he understands that what's important in this campaign is not only what we've accomplished but what we will accomplish in the future. And his own record of electoral success shows that he's not only an excellent Senator but an excellent campaigner as well. He's done very, very well. And I'm pleased and excited to introduce the next Vice President of the United States, Senator Dan Quayle.


Thank you very much Mr. Vice President and it's certainly a great honor and believe me I am excited about getting going out on the campaign trail and taking the issues of the Reagan-Bush era and looking toward a George Bush America that will simply keep this country moving forward.

We have peace and prosperity. We have to keep peace and prosperity. I've been in the Congress now for 12 years, four in the House and eight in the Senate. I worked very hard particularly in the area of job training as the author of the Job Training Partnership Act that reached out and it put millions of people to work in America.

I believe in education and we've worked hard in the labor and human resources committees to provide those education opportunities. I've worked on the Senate Armed Services Committee as chairman of the Defense Procurement Subcommittee to make sure that the Packard reforms were implemented to bring about competitiveness.

And I also believe very strongly in investment in national defense - investment in national defense and particularly moving forward with the Strategic Defense Initiative so we can defend America.

But my excitement is not only personally for the Vice President but for the values and the principles that he stands for. He stands for what is the best in America and we are going to go out and to articulate the hope, the opportunity for those families, the hope and opportunity to preserve freedom and the hope and the opportunity for our future.

Thank you for placing your confidence in me.


Heartbeat From Presidency

Q: Can you really say to the nation today that Senator Quayle, young and so relatively inexperienced, especially compared to you sir, is prepared to be a heartbeat away from the President?

BUSH: Yes, I can. His record is outstanding. Yes, he's young and that's a tremendous asset. He'll have broad appeal for the election. But in terms of being a heartbeat away, I've listened since I've named him as the likely nominee, since I've recommended to the national convention that he be nominated for that job, I've listened to his peers and the accolades from the senators with whom he serves speak eloquently of Dan Quayle's standing to be one heartbeat away from the Presidency.


Q: Senator, what makes you think you are qualified to become President in the event something unfortunate should happen to Mr. Bush? What is it that you have that would make you qualified?

QUAYLE: Well, I have spent 12 years in the Congress. I know perhaps as much about national security as anybody with few exceptions. I've worked hard, particularly on the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Senate Armed Services Committee and my national security background gives me a very important background for if some accident would befall the President, to have an understanding about what needs to be done to preserve the freedoms and the opportunities in this country. I'd be prepared.

Q: What executive experience do you have?

QUAYLE: What executive experience do I have? I have worked, when I was going to law school, in the Governor's office as administrative assistant. I worked in the Attorney General's office and I also worked as the director of the Inheritance Tax Division of Indiana. I was known as the chief grave robber of my state. I also was the associate publisher of The Huntington Herald Press and I've met a payroll before. So I have a management and executive background as well.

Narrowing the Gender Gap

Q: Mr. Vice President, now that you've made your choice, what do you plan to do to narrow this tremendous gender gap that confronts you?

BUSH: Well, go to work. Spell out my views on the issues. We've already started with a good agenda, talking about child care for one, talking about education with specifics for another. Spelled it out a little further with world peace, because I think the women of America are vitally interested in that. Have a running mate who has a record of strong appeal to young people and to women voters in his state because of his record. And I think that'll all come together right here.

Attracting Voters in the Center

Q: Mr. Vice President, it's been said that in order to win this fall you have to nail down that part of the Reagan coalition of independents and those people known as the Reagan Democrats. It's clear Senator Quayle will appeal to the right wing of your party and to conservatives. How does he help you to nail down that center part of the electorate, those people who are ideologically in the center?

BUSH: He helps me nationally by the same way he did it in Indiana. Take a look at the record in terms of votes. Take a look at the standing in terms of voter acceptance today, the Governor telling me that Dan Quayle has a higher standing with the voters - Democrat and Republican - than any other public figure in the state of Indiana. That's how we do it.

Right over here Jerry and then Bob.

Balancing the Ticket

Q: Mr. Vice President, there are some people who say you should have done more to try to balance your ticket, either have someone who's somewhat different from you or who come, who offer something that you don't, sir. Did you take that into consideration?

BUSH: He's different from me. I'm 64 and he's 41 and that's good. That's positive because his message of hope and opportunity, his record of job creation will resound and have great emphasis in those particular - in the areas of younger people. And I've demonstrated - I've already said that he has demonstrated his ability to, to get votes from women. So if we can convey nationally what he has demonstrated in one state, it'll be of enormous help to this ticket.


Choice of Quayle, Not Dole

Q: Mr. Vice President, most polls I think suggested that Senator Dole would have been a stronger ticket. Why did you choose Senator Quayle rather than Senator Dole?

BUSH: It was a tough call. There were several men and women who would fit the criteria that I spelled out ahead of time, but I felt for the reasons I've given here that Dan Quayle is the best choice.

Way back here.

Quayle and Iran-Contra

Q: Senator Quayle, during the Iran-contra hearings last summer there was testimony that your office served as a meeting place for people like John Hull and Rob Owen, who were involved in contra resupplies during the Boland Amendment. Were you involved in the contra fund-raising and resupply operation? And did you have any contact with Vice President Bush or his office about it?

QUAYLE: None. And the question is off-base as far as any of those meetings going on.

BUSH: Yes?

Issue of Playboy Model

Q: Senator Quayle, since this is a family value campaign I'm sure you're eager to clear up questions about your relationship with Paula Parkinson, the former lobbyist and Playboy model. I have a two-part question. The first part is you have said that you went on a weekend with two Congressmen, one of whom brought her along, that you saw her only once and you played golf the rest of the time. First of all, sir, is that an accurate account?


Q: O.K. Can you give us an accurate account?

QUAYLE: That has been covered and there's nothing to it.

Q: Well, the second part of the question then is, have you seen her on any other occasion in Washington perhaps, other than that Florida trip?


Q: Thank you.

BUSH: Dave?

Quayle Financial Disclosures

Q: Senator Quayle, Vice President Bush has made financial disclosure a hallmark of his career and also talked about it in this campaign. Are you prepared to pledge today full financial disclosure, all your holdings, your trusts, at the outset of this campaign?

QUAYLE: Yes. And that will be done in a reasonable period of time.

BUSH: And we will be challenging the Democrats - 10 years of tax returns, starting this year going back 10. Lay it out on the record, fully. I believe in full disclosure and so does he.


Poverty in Urban Centers

Q: Mr. Vice President, the Democrats, including Mr. Dukakis claim that there are big holes in the Reagan safety net - with millions of people in the large urban centers of this country, including New York, facing poverty and homelessness, many of these are children - what in an immediate sense can conservative ideology do for them?

BUSH: When we pass the McKinney bill, it should be fully funded. We should all work at all levels of government, not just Federal, but state and local to provide housing. I've made some specific proposals that relate to defense establishments. There's a provision in the law where some of those can be used for housing. The fundamental answer, of course, is to do better in terms of housing itself, and that gets into the fundamental economic questions. But it is a key issue. It's one that the Senator and I feel strongly about and we're going to keep on trying.

Yeah, Al?

Stand on Raising Taxes

Q: Senator Quayle you have backed the Senator Domenici budget proposal that calls for $22 billion in tax increases. Are you going to be at odds with the platform of the Republicans that call for no tax increases?

QUAYLE: Absolutely not because, let's face it, we have economic growth today because of the Reagan-Bush tax cuts. And the Vice President has pledged, and I support him in that pledge that we are simply not going to raise taxes. It would be foolhardy. Why would we want to raise taxes and try to send this economy into a downturn? We have gotten economic growth through tax cuts.

Q: Then why did you support a budget that called for tax increases in fiscal year '83 of $22 billion?

QUAYLE: That was the budget, the Domenici budget. It was a compromise worked out and in the legislative process you have compromise, but we're - there is no compromise on raising taxes.

Right here.

Leading Fight With Democrats

Q: I'd like to ask both of you gentlemen about the growing speculation Senator Quayle that you are going to lead the charge against the Democrats. And words like pit bull have been used and so forth. Without using those words, is that true? Are you going to be leading the charge against the Democrats?

QUAYLE: Well that's a new description. I am going to be working with the Vice President in campaigning and articulating a very positive agenda of the future, of the family and preserving our freedoms and preserving our hope and opportunity. Now obviously I intend to point out what would happen if the party of McGovern, Carter, Mondale and Dukakis would somehow get back in power. I think it would be a disaster.

BUSH: Let me add, since you addressed it to both of us. We're going to tell the truth and it's going to seem like they've engaged a couple of pit bulls because that's the way it's going to be. We're going to talk about these issues, each in our own way. And we've had a convention and will, I think when it finishes, that, have one where talk has been much more specific than the other side. And we will be telling the truth about where we want to lead this country, spelling out my priorities and Dan speaking to the issues. And trying to challenge the Democrats to do the same thing. Competence is important but ideology is very important and we're going to be talking on both.

Yes, two here in the front.

Bush-Quayle Relationship

Q: Mr. Vice President, would you tell us a little bit about how you first met Dan Quayle and how well you've know him since then.

BUSH: I've known him for many years. I campaigned for Senator Quayle back in the 70's, campaigned again with him when he ran for re-election and so I've known him favorably and most recently he has been one of our key advisers before this selection process even began on national security.

Lack of War Experience

Q: Senator Quayle, I'm listening to the Democrats trying to knock you down very quickly and this morning they were attacking you as someone who says he's tough on defense but from your era you didn't fight in the Vietnam War. I'm wondering if you think that that's a low blow from them, or if you'd like to respond to them going on the attack on you on that matter.

QUAYLE: Yes, I do perceive that as being a cheap shot. I have a deep affection for those men and women who have sacrificed their lives in Vietnam. And anybody to imply anything differently is just simple nonsense.

Q: Well my point is that Mr. Bush has fought, you know, in World War II. You're tough on defense. Do you think it's going to be a handicap in the campaign because you didn't fight in Vietnam?

QUAYLE: No, I do not.

Q: Well you got interrupted. Now please go.

Boldness in Choice of Quayle

Q: Mr. Vice President, Some of your staff have been at pains to point out what a bold stroke your choice of Senator Quayle was. How important was it for you to show that you're your own man, a risk-taker, willing to take a bold step?

BUSH: Well, I don't think it's a great risk because I think that when the country sees what I have already seen and your country understands why the senators with whom this man works are so high on him that they will see it as a very natural choice. So I don't think - as I went through the decision-making process I wasn't - I wasn't compelled to say I've got to do something bold or something different. I went through a serious process. I hope I did it in a dignified way. I think we had some control of the situation and as I - the more I thought about it, the more I felt this was the best possible choice I could make. Roger, yes, sir.

Position on Arms Control

Q: Senator Quayle, given your original reluctance to support the I.N.F. Treaty and given your deep questions about the verification issue, can you support a 50 percent reduction in strategic arms the Administration is now supporting?

QUAYLE: I support the ongoing arms control process and the positions that have been put on the table. I believe that the arms control process and the I.N.F. Treaty which I ultimately voted in favor of is a good process and I think the I.N.F. Treaty seemed an actual reduction and the elimination of certain classes of weapons as a positive step. I also believe that the lesson that should be learned from the I.N.F. Treaty - and this should carry over the Start Treaty - is that to get the Soviet Union to the bargaining table and to get any movement in arms control we have to have an adequate investment in national security.

BUSH: Way over in the far side. No. Over there.

Attitude Toward the U.N.

Q: Thank you very much, Vice President. Mr. Vice President, your last intervention in United Nations of Iran and Iraq Committee was wonderful and very positive. And the majority of ambassadors say it, after your intervention. Question: When you'll be elected President of United States, do you think is necessary to change it, the international system of U.N.?

BUSH: Well, I'd like to see changes in the United Nations. I've always favored charter reform. It is very hard to accomplish when you have a veto holding power like the Soviet Union. But I am not a U.N. basher. I think it has a useful role to play and we're seeing it playing such a role in the Iran-Iraqi controversy. But I would not - I don't agree with Governor Dukakis that everytime a foreign policy crisis arrives, we should turn it over to the United Nations. Over here. Yes.

Quayle's Financial Status

Q: Senator Quayle - I'd like to ask both of you this question - but Senator Quayle, it has been quoted that your net worth is $200 million. Is this correct? And if so, isn't this going to put off the blue-collar -

BUSH: Why do you think I chose him?

Q: - put off the blue-collar vote and the low-income vote.

QUAYLE: That figure is not correct. And believe me you have caused me a lot of problems at home, because my wife is asking about that. We will be releasing all of our tax returns and you'll be able to figure out that it's far less than what you said.

BUSH: Yes, sir.

Specifics on Debating Dukakis

Q: Mr. Vice President, you've been very critical of Governor Dukakis for not being specific enough. Now that you've chosen a running mate, will you be specific about how many times you'll debate Governor Dukakis and in what forums?

BUSH: We'll be addressing ourselves to the debate question very soon. There will be debates. I'm going to ask Jim Baker to initiate the discussions. And I thought there was a little presumptuous to go charging forward before you even are officially nominated by the party. Yes, sir?

Compatibility on Ticket

Q: Mr. Vice President, as you reviewed your contenders, the candidates for the office, how important were the qualities of loyalty and compatibility to you?

BUSH: Well, I said ahead of time before I selected Senator Quayle that there should be some philosophical compatibility. Now there's some issues where he and I have differed and probably will differ. But he's known for his frankness. He'll be able to come down, if I'm elected, and open that door to the Oval Office, as I can do today, and give me his judgment. And that's what I want. But we aren't going off on two entirely different directions like the Democratic ticket. And we'll be presenting a unified forward-looking message on the economy and on world peace and on education and these key priorities for the American people. We won't have to debate each other, so that the American people understand these different -

Attracting Young Voters

Q: Mr. Vice President, President Reagan ran pretty well among young people in 1984 and you haven't. What makes you think that the problem is just a lack of youth on the ticket?

BUSH: I think I have. I think I did well with young people in primaries. I think we won the nomination earlier than a lot of us collectively thought I'd win it. And if you go back and analyze it, I think you'll see I did very well amonst young people. Now wait a minute. Do I need help in this area? Sure. And have I gotten it by the selection of a young, experienced, United States Senator? I think so.

Way in the back.

Conduct of the Campaign

Q: Mr. Vice President, are you going send Senator Quayle deep in the Middle West? And is that going to be the campaign battleground?

BUSH. There will not be a simple regional program where he spends all his time in one area and I spend my time in another, but I feel that he can be extraordinarily helpful in the Middle West.

We haven't been in the back of the room. Yes sir?

Q: You said that it's going to look like a fight between two pit bulls. We've already seen Governor Dukakis referred to as a diminutive clerk or as Pee Wee Herman. Is it going to get worse than that?

BUSH: No. I don't think either Senator Quayle or I will be that colorful rhetorically. And I recall being on the receiving end of a barb or two at the Democratic National Convention. It didn't hurt much, like getting hit with a marshmallow out there. But I think all we have to do is talk about the issues. And I'll be a doing a little of that in my speech tomorrow. And both the Senator and I will be doing a lot of that in the campaign and if we can spell it out, if he can, we can compel him to be as specific as I have been and as both of us will be, then I think we will have made real headway. You don't have to resort to name-calling out of the Democratic Convention or out of the Republican Convention. Susan?

Background on Quayle

Q: Senator Quayle, there's been so much made of the fact you're a baby boomer. Maybe you can give us a little picture of yourself. Graduating in 1969, the Vietnam era, you chose to go in the National Guard rather than to serve in Vietnam. Can you give us a little bit of what you were thinking during that time?

QUAYLE: Well it's, growing up in Huntington, Ind., the first thing you think about is education. You think about what any small town person would think about, eventually growing up, raising a family. I was fortunate enough to be able to go on to law school, meet my wife. We have, I'm blessed with my three beautiful children. We're very happy, very content and looking forward to a very exciting campaign. I did not know in 1969 that I would be in this room today, I'll confess.

Q: Why the National Guard rather than serving in the Army, Marines the Navy before going to Vietnam?

QUAYLE: My brother and I, two years younger, both went into the service at the same time, about the same time. He went into the Marine Corps and I went into the National Guard. I went into the National Guard and I served six years there from 1969 through 1975.

BUSH: We gotta go to this side of the room.

Timing on Announcement

Q: Mr. Bush, you had originally planned to make this announcement either later today or tomorrow and there's been some complaints that making it on Tuesday in fact diluted the message last night. You didn't get the sharp criticism of Dukakis out or the conservative message. In retrospect, was it a mistake, do you think, to go ahead with the announcement?

BUSH: No, I think it was of a sound decision. I think it has captured the imagination of this convention and I really believe that it was the right thing to do and the delegates that I've talked to - it hadn't been many -and the people I've talked to - again not too many, because I've been working on my speech. But as I move around, saw some this morning at the agricultural breakfast, there's great enthusiasm. And let me tell you why I made this choice - I mean timing of it. I set my mind to doing it, making a decision before I got to New Orleans. I did that. We had a thorough practice. We did not make joint appearances with candidates and have the applause meter running out there to suggest who was the most popular. But I did get some concern that having made up my mind that if we left it dangling out there, there would be an accusation and properly so I felt that I was, you know, not treating those who had been considered for this job with the dignity to which they were entitled. And that's why I set up the process. And it worked and I think it's had wide. . . . Yes, ma'am here . . .

Comment on Grandchildren

Q: You've been campaigning very hard for the Hispanic vote. Yesterday you made the comment about my three little brown children. Some Hispanics have been offended by that. Can you clarify what you meant by that.

BUSH: Let me tell you something about that. Those grandchildren are my pride and joy. And when I say pride, I mean it. Anybody that has ever traveled with me or knows the heartbeat of the Bush family knows not only my sensitivity but my love for those children. And for anyone to suggest that that comment of pride is anything other than what it was, I find it personally offensive and P.S. I don't want to see these kids hurt. And they weren't hurt by what I said and if they're hurt my misinterpretation, that isn't fair. I don't like it. And this is my family and I'm going to protect them and I'm delighted you raised this because I - I have heard question raised and this heart knows nothing but pride and love for those three children and you're going to see them with me every inch of the way. Yes. Last one.

Millionaire Ticket

Q: Mr. Vice President, since you don't want the Republican Party to seem like a party of the rich, for the rich, once again a question about personal finance. Why pick another millionaire for a running mate?

BUSH: I picked the best man to be Vice President of the United States. It isn't a question of personal wealth, it's personal how you keep this country going so more people can benefit by this, the longest recovery in history. It's those who care about others in his leadership and his Job Training Partnership Act - really something sensational. And so I don't think it's a question of personal wealth. If it were, the Democratic ticket would be deep trouble too.

Thank you all very, very much.

George Bush, News Conference by Vice President Bush and Senator Dan Quayle Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project