Smiling broadly, LDS Church President Ezra Taft Benson clasped hands with Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle after a 15-minute meeting Friday and said the senator has many friends in Utah.
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met with Quayle at the Church Administration Building as they had earlier this year with Democratic candidates Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson.But while Dukakis and Jackson met with members of the church's First Presidency, Quayle was the first national candidate this year to meet with President Benson. Church officials said President Benson was unavailable when the other candidates visited.
Church officials, however, restated the church's long-standing policy of not making political endorsements in the election.
Friday's brief meeting ended when President Benson entered the lobby of the LDS Church Administration Building with Quayle, R-Ind., on his left and Quayle's wife, Marilyn, on his right.
As reporters surrounded the trio, President Benson clasped Quayle's right hand.
When asked if he felt he had secured the "Mormon vote," Quayle hesitated, then said, "We think we have a lot of friends here."
That prompted President Benson to say, "You do. You certainly do, and it goes back to Eisenhower."
President Benson served as Secretary of Agriculture during President Dwight Eisenhower's administration.
Quayle then was ushered out of the building and into the bus that took him to a rally in Farmington.
Church spokesman Richard Lindsay said Quayle met with President Benson, his counselors President Thomas S. Monson and President Gordon B. Hinckley, and with Elders Russell M. Nelson, David B. Haight and M. Russell Ballard, all members of the Council of the Twelve.
The church leaders gave Quayle a sculpture portraying a family with a small child, titled "First Step," Lindsay said.
They talked about the importance of family and moral values during the meeting. Quayle told church leaders he believes strongly in the importance of religion and prayer and said he feels comfortable in Utah, Lindsay said.
During the meeting, Quayle told about his 97-year-old grandmother who said she has to pray for her family in groups because it is so large.
Lindsay quoted President Hinckley as telling Quayle the family is the basic part of the nation's strength.
"There were no requests for endorsements and none were given," Lindsay said.