Embattled Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle will talk about issues when he visits Utah on Friday - and that's what the state's voters want to hear, a state GOP leader said Thursday.
The Indiana senator is scheduled to arrive in Salt Lake City at 1 p.m. Friday and meet with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Then Quayle is expected to travel to Farmington, where he will speak at a rally on the steps of the Davis County Courthouse. The public is invited to attend his speech, which is scheduled shortly after 2 p.m.
And guess who will be on the speaker's stand with Quayle? Utah's own Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, who has been doing some lively stepping this week after telling the Deseret News editorial board Monday that Quayle should remove himself from the ticket.
Nielson now says that his statement was misunderstood - that it wasn't his personal opinion, but that he was only repeating some of the opinions held by some of his constituents. The Deseret News editorial board members stand by their previous report of the Nielson con-versation.
Nielson said he supports Quayle and will endorse his vice presidential candidacy. He also said he expects Quayle to endorse him in Nielson's 3rd Congressional District re-election race.
Quayle has been scrutinized since his selection as Vice President George Bush's running mate last week. Questions have arisen about Quayle's National Guard service during the Vietnam War and his association with a female lobbyist.
But Bonnie Stephens, co-chairman of Bush's campaign in Utah, said the state's voters are concerned about where the candidate stands on issues such as defense. She said they are not as interested as the press is in Quayle's background.
"The polls are showing us that people are saying this is nonsense," Stephens said. "We're going to get on with it, we're going to talk about issues."
She said that the purpose of Quayle's visit is not to help boost the campaigns of Utah Republicans but to introduce the No. 2 man on the GOP ticket to the state's voters.
Stephens admitted that the controversy still surrounding Quayle a week after the questions first surfaced would get in the way of that goal.
Quayle comes to Utah at the invitation of Gov. Norm Bangerter, said Bangerter's campaign manager David Buhler. "In New Orleans last week (at the National Republican Convention) the governor made a very strong pitch to have Quayle visit Utah. We think he'll visit again before the election. We wanted him, and we want (Vice President) George Bush also here."
Bangerter was promised a visit with Bush in New Orleans. But Bush announced Quayle as his vice presidential pick on Tuesday of last week, instead of Thursday as planned, and the press storm that arose Wednesday diverted the vice president from meeting with local leaders like Bangerter, Buhler said.
Concerning Quayle's visit, and its political impact on Utah voters and Bangerter's race, Buhler said, "We have no reservations at all about his visit Friday. Certainly, he may be less controversial and more popular in a couple of weeks when this all dies down. But we welcome him now and we'll welcome him back if he can come again before the election."
Quayle can certainly expect a warm welcome in Farmington. Many local residents said Thursday that his visit is the most exciting thing to happen since actor Mark Harmon was there filming a television mini-series about serial killer Ted Bundy.
Davis County Commission secretary Nancy Rice said that, save Harmon, Farmington has never been a stop off for too many famous people.
"I have had a few phone calls. People have kind of a surprised reaction. They wonder `why Farmington'?" she said.
Her Republican boss, Commissioner Harold Tippetts, says why not?
"We are just simply delighted," Tippetts said. "We expect to have a sizable Republican rally for him."
Carol Olsen, a checker at Bowman's Market, across from the courthouse, said, "It is exciting for Farmington. It is nice that little communities are thought of as being important."