Dan Quayle touched all the right buttons during a brief, rain-spattered rally here Friday afternoon - endorsing strong defense spending, family, tax cuts and school prayer and opposing abortion.
He was received very well - just what one might expect in one of the most Republican counties in the nation. His 15-minute speech, perhaps shortened a bit by his late arrival and the threatening clouds, was often interrupted by applause and cheers. Sometimes the loyal Republicans chanted "Bush, Bush," and "Quayle, Quayle."While the vast majority of the crowd was in favor of the young GOP vice presidential candidate, there were a couple of posters questioning his military service and votes on Social Security. But Quayle wasn't heckled or booed. Those responses were saved for the enemy: Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis - the Democratic presidential nominee - who Quayle hounded to the delight of the crowd.
Quayle's trip to Utah came about quickly.
Part of it was timing. "He had a couple of hours open in his schedule; the Bush campaign called Wednesday night and asked if we could accommodate a visit. We said `You bet,' " said GOP state chairman Craig Moody during an hour wait at the Salt Lake International Airport for Quayle's late arrival.
But also, Vice President George Bush had promised Gov. Norm Bangerter, who has an uphill fight for re-election this year, a personal visit and photo opportunity last week in New Orleans during the National Republican Convention. The visit would have been a help in the campaign. Bush broke the date, in part because of the press attacks on Quayle's military service during the Vietnam War.
So Quayle was sent to make amends. State GOP leaders promise Bush will come to Salt Lake City sometime this election season. They hope to get President Reagan to visit Utah County before the election also, Moody said.
Bangerter was front and center Friday. He had a five-minute private meeting with Quayle aboard Quayle's plane before the two walked out together for photographs at the airport. And Quayle and his wife, Marilyn, rode with Bangerter, Sen. Jake Garn and Rep. Jim Hansen, both R-Utah, and other Utah GOP leaders in a bus to visit leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and on to the Farmington rally.
After the rally, Quayle met with Utah GOP leaders before leaving a little after 5 p.m. for a California campaign swing.
Just as Quayle was introduced on the steps of the Davis County Courthouse, a light rain began. But that didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd.
"Marilyn and I can identify with you people here in Utah," Quayle said. "In the just the short time I have been here, I can see that sincere, honest commitment (we share) with our families," he said. "We believe in families. We understand that any nation is only as great as its families."
Quayle said a cutting-edge issue this campaign will be child care. The choice, he said, is clear. Dukakis wants the federal government to set child care standards; he and Bush want the federal government to give a tax credit to parents with children in child care, so the parents can decide how and by whom their children should be taken care of.
Dukakis "wants the federal government to come in and tell us parents how to take care of our children," he said, eliciting boos and shouts of "No, no," from the crowd.
"In a George Bush administration we'll have a tax credit and put it in the hands of of the parents and let parents make the determination of how that child should be taken care of." Cheers filled the air.
Quayle then listed what he said are the pro-family actions taken by Republicans in the past and that would be continued by a Bush-Quayle administration:
- Lower personal income taxes to 28 percent.
- Job Partnership Training Act that trained 3.4 million people - including Pam LaRue, a Roy woman Quayle mentioned in his convention acceptance speech and who he introduced to the Farmington rally.
- Cut inflation.
- Reduced interest rates.
"The Republican Party is pro-family. We have compassion for the elderly. The Republican Party is the party of the great middle class in America. We have compassion for the young. And, yes, we also have compassion for the yet unborn." Loud cheers were heard from the crowd.
Speaking of children, Quayle said, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could have a moment of silence in our schools to pray to our God?" - triggering more loud cries of approval.
Finally, Quayle said if Dukakis is elected president, America will have a weak president. And a weak president means a weak America. "George Bush is strong, and he will make a strong America," Quayle said in ending his speech.
While Quayle never addressed his National Guard service controversy, it was a major topic in speeches by other Utah politicians.
In introducing Quayle, Garn said, "If I may say, in 21 years of public office, I don't believe I have ever seen the media create a phonier issue than the National Guard issue."
That comment drew wild applause, although some in the audience held signs saying "Draft Dodger Quayle," "Chicken Hawk" and "Draft Dodgers for Quayle" - with the `Q' being an old broken-cross peace sign.
A 22-year-old Quayle joined the Indiana National Guard in 1969. Friends of his influential, wealthy family made telephone calls in his behalf to guard commanders, who in turn kept a spot open for the young Quayle. But there were vacancies in the guard units and the telephone calls weren't necessary for him to get into the guard.
Garn added, "I've been angry as one who served 20 years in the Utah Air National Guard and flew missions to Vietnam. I'd like to take some of the press who went to Canada to Vietnam with me.
"The issue is an insult to everybody from George Washington on, who was the first citizen soldier in this country and to those who were first called up in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam because I had to fly one of the missions that flew units of the Idaho National Guard" into Saigon.
"Guardsmen have always served this country, and they are always available to be called to active duty and they have been and hundreds of thousands of them have lost their lives in the defense of this country," he said.
"If I sound angry, I am. It's a phony issue."
Hansen, whose hometown is Farmington, added that serving in the National Guard is honorable.
"We all had our opportunities. I served in the reserve, some took the Guard, some took the academies, some took the ROTC - but we all served honorably."
Garn also said he wants the nation to see Dan and Marilyn Quayle as "incredibly decent human beings and good parents." He said he's learned that as a public official, it's important to look at the human qualities of people, and "people of this country will know Dan and Marilyn Quayle for the fine human beings that they are."
Bangerter joked, "Things are really starting to happen in Utah - it's raining." The badly needed rain began when Quayle arrived, and sprinkled throughout the speeches by him and other politicians.
Bangerter noted that he knows Dukakis fairly well because they are both governors, and doesn't like what he has found out about him.
"President Dukakis would be a disaster for Utah and the United States," he said. "I think you know that Ronald Reagan and George Bush have re-established the United States as a major power in this world, and that the Bush-Quayle presidency will enhance that image and strengthen that defense."