Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, claimed Wednesday that the Deseret News misinterpreted his statements about whether he thinks vice presidential nominee Dan Quayle should withdraw from the Republican ticket.
Nielson said Wednesday that when he talked to the Deseret News, he said some constituents felt Quayle should get out but that the Deseret News reported that was his personal view. He said he personally thinks Quayle should not necessarily drop off the ticket.But Nielson told the Deseret News editorial board on Monday, "I think he should get out now and cut his losses" and that controversy about Quayle "hurts the ticket; it can't do anything else." The comments were reported Tuesday and were picked up by other news organizations nationwide.
When local television stations asked Nielson about the comments, Nielson told them his comments had been misinterpreted by the newspaper.
But members of the editorial board - including the publisher, managing editor, editorial writers and a reporter - said that is not what they remember. They stand by the story that Nielson was talking about his personal views.
When Nielson was reached for comment Wednesday, he insisted that he was talking about a conversation with constituents after a church meeting and they felt Quayle should drop off the ticket quickly if he were going to do so.
"I asked Sam Klemm (a staffer who was with him at the Deseret News meeting) whether I ever said I thought Quayle should drop out, and he said no."
When Nielson was asked Wednesday to clarify exactly what his personal view about whether Quayle should drop off the ticket, he said, "Well, that is a decision he has to make" adding that if Quayle has uneasiness about his military service in the Vietnam era; is asked by Bush to drop out; or feels he is an embarrassment to the ticket; then he should drop out of the race.
"If any of those three apply, then he should get off; if not, he should stay on," Nielson said.
Quayle has been criticized for joining the Indiana National Guard in 1969, possibly to avoid combat in Vietnam. Few guard units were sent to Vietnam during the war. Critics claim that friends of Quayle's powerful newspaper-publishing family helped him get into the Guard.