• U.S.

People Vote for Presidents, Not Vice Presidents

5 minute read
Michael Duffy and Dan Quayle

Q. Please size up Al Gore.

A. He’s a very good debater. He was a good debater in the Senate, a good debater in the House, does his homework. ((But)) he and I disagree on almost every issue.

Q. Do Vice Presidents matter much in this race?

A. The American people vote for the President. The American people vote for the top of the ticket, where obviously the Vice President, or Vice Presidents, can help — they can help with the core constituency out there. The bottom line is, people vote for Presidents, not Vice Presidents.

Q. What are the two or three accomplishments as Vice President of which you are proudest?

A. One, working to advance the President’s agenda on Capitol Hill. Representing the President in 47 countries around the world. Traveling to all 50 states, helping out with political responsibilities. Heading the Competitiveness Council, heading the Space Council. Probably the most important event was monitoring the Philippine crisis when the President was in Malta.

Q. Was it a mistake to overemphasize family values in Houston?

A. The media have given more discussion to speeches other than the speech that I made, or other than the speech that the President made. ((Ours)) were the two main speeches. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard very little discussion of my speech, and not much more discussion on the President’s speech. ((Coverage)) focused on these peripheral issues, and I think that is just simply the media trying to figure out a way to unfairly criticize the convention and criticize the President. I don’t see people going back and looking at what Jesse Jackson said and what Jerry Brown said at the Democratic Convention, but you sure hear that review of the Republican Convention, so I just chalk it up as one more unfair attack on the President.

Q. You gave what many people considered the best speech of your life in Houston. Had people not been paying attention to you, or were you the beneficiary of low expectations?

A. Others have to answer that. I spent quite a bit of time writing the speech. I was trying to make it topical but also defining the issue very clearly. It was not a much different speech than what I’ve given out on the campaign trail. The fact is that people don’t focus on the Vice President, and I think in many people’s mind the image is still back in the ’88 campaign; this is 1992.

Q. The President has been saying that Bill Clinton has no experience in foreign policy. Is that an argument that you think is going to work with the American people at a time when the economy seems to be the issue foremost in their minds?

A. The economy is the first issue, but international economics is very important. International economics will play a great role in creating new jobs and opportunities. This President knows every leader — almost every leader in the world on a first-name basis. He’s the one that can sit down, negotiate free-trade agreements, knock down tariffs, knock down barriers, create a world environment of free, fair trade rather than protectionism, and if you travel the road that Bill Clinton wants to travel, it will be much more of a protectionist road that will cost us jobs; small businesses will be denied export opportunities, jobs will be lost, and our country will suffer.

Q. On the environment, you have said that it is better to emphasize jobs over the environment and at other times you have said that there doesn’t need to be a trade-off between the two. Could you clarify your position?

A. I think it’s a false choice to say you can’t have a strong environment and a strong economy. I think you can have both. Our emphasis, our approach — just like we dealt with the spotted owl, you send legislation to the | Congress that will preserve the spotted owl in its natural habitat and preserve 17,000 jobs. We have both, but unfortunately, the Democratic Congress is only interested in preserving the owl. The owl is important, but so are jobs. ((The Democrats)) are the ones that are basically saying we can only have a strong environment, and we can’t have a strong economy as well.

Q. Could you clarify your position on abortion? You have recently begun to indicate that it was a matter that you would leave to the states.

A. My position on abortion is one that I’ve always had, a pro-life position. I am opposed to abortion. I think abortion is wrong. I have said that what we need to do is focus more, and reflect more on the issues of abortion. That is precisely what the Pennsylvania statute calls for — a 24-hour waiting period, parental notification of a minor. In Los Angeles I was talking to a woman who had an abortion at age 17, and she told me that she wished when she was 17 years old that someone would have told her what the postabortion trauma was going to be like. Looking back on it she wished that she had not chosen abortion, and she told me, “If I had time to reflect on it over the 24-hour waiting period, I might not have had that abortion.” That’s what I’m talking about — changing attitudes, changing behavior.

Q. Are you suggesting that we don’t need a ban on abortion?

A. My focus today is the pro-life position of reflecting on the issue of abortion, trying to have the choice of life rather than abortion.

Q. If you became President tomorrow morning, what would you do?

A. It really isn’t appropriate for me as Vice President to talk to you about what I’d do as President, other than to say that I would continue to advance the agenda of George Bush.

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