With the selection Tuesday of Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle as a vice presidential candidate, the Baby Boomers have finally arrived in presidential politics.
Quayle, 41, is known formally as J. Danford Quayle, but Vice President George Bush calls him "Danny." He's a fresh face and an unexpected breeze in this hot, humid city hosting the National Republican Convention.
In a surprise announcement Tuesday afternoon made as he arrived in New Orleans, Bush, who will receive his party's presidential nomination in voting Wednesday evening, said Quayle "is a man of the future, a young man," who loves freedom and his family.
Bush aides said the handsome senator, who some say looks like Utah's Robert Redford, should help in the big Midwest states of Michigan, Illinois and Ohio as well as his home state. He's also expected to placate the conservative wing of the party, and, they hope, will deliver some of the women vote, where Bush badly trails his Democratic opponent, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.
In picking the youthful Quayle, Bush took the opposite direction of Dukakis, who chose as his running mate Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, 67.
The arch-conservative wing of the Republican Party is not enthralled with Bush. He is viewed as a moderate and thus somewhat suspect. But Quayle comes with recognized conservative credentials.
Said TV evangelist Pat Robertson, who sought the GOP presidential nomination this year: "Quayle is regarded as a conservative. On areas like abortion and school prayer he is right down the line with the evangelicals."
The American Conservative Union said Quayle voted correctly 81 percent of the time on key Senate votes in 1987. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce rated him 89 percent, while the AFL-CIO gave Quayle a 20 percent approval rating, and the Americans for Democratic Action, a liberal group, gave him only a 5 percent rating.
In contrast, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was given 92, 100, 11 and 5 percent ratings by the same four groups. So Quayle is right up there in the conservative rankings.
Throughout the convention Tuesday, speakers praised the choice of Quayle. By Tuesday evening, the speakers had included Quayle in their remarks _ all positive.
Utahns were pleased as well. Hatch knows Quayle as well as any Utahn does, working with him for eight years on the Senate Labor and Human Relations Committee, which Hatch chaired from 1980 to 1986. The two bumped heads over the Job Partnership Training Act when Reagan ended the CETA program.
The two reached a compromise, however, and Hatch earned respect for the young man.
"I was surprised by Bush's pick," Hatch said. "I didn't think he'd go that young. Some may question Dan's age. But he is well-educated and has a lot of experience for someone his age."
Hatch expects the Democrats to actually say Quayle is too conservative. "But he isn't. I say he's moderate to conservative on most issues," Hatch said.
Former Education Secretary Ted Bell, a Utah delegate, said Quayle was always a strong supporter of education. "He is an excellent choice. He'll help the gender gap and in the Midwest."
Gov. Norm Bangerter said Quayle will play well in Utah and should help Bush's ticket. "We hope to have Bush in Utah. And we look forward to a visit form Quayle," although no such visit has yet been arranged, he said.
Young members of the Utah delegation were maybe the most pleased with Quayle's pick.
"Quayle is just five years older than I am. It's important to my generation to finally have one of their own on the ticket. It shows we are included at the highest levels," said State Republican Chairman Craig Moody, 36.
The convention's youngest delegate, Steve Densley Jr., 18, said, "I think it will help to have a young candidate. He is out there with a lot of energy and is vibrant."
Bush's campaign has already gathered an advance team for Quayle, and Bush said he'll visit Indiana with Quayle on Friday, the day after the convention.
Bush announced his choice as he arrived on a Mississippi riverboat and addressed a rally in Spanish Plaza. He originally said he wouldn't give his pick until Thursday morning. But some aides said that timing could take away some of the spotlight from Bush's acceptance speech Thursday night.
That speech is critical, politicos say. After Dukakis gave a rousing address at his convention last month, he jumped 10 points in the polls.
Quayle was first elected to the Senate at 33, one of the youngest senators ever.
But Quayle's swift political rise began four years earlier. In 1976, Quayle, the grandson of a conservative Indiana newspaper publisher, was working on one of the family papers when a popular state representative chose not to run for re-election, reports Congressional Quarterly. Even though he had little time to organize, Quayle won the election.