Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle "did quite well" early in his debate with Democratic counterpart Lloyd Bentsen, but "by the end he kind of lost it," Geraldine Ferraro, who aspired to the nation's second highest office in 1984, said Thursday.

Picking up on Quayle's comment Wednesday night in Omaha, Neb., that he first would say a prayer should he be thrust into the presidency in the event of a tragedy, Ferraro said: "Not only will he be praying . . . but so would we."The former Democratic congresswoman from New York, who, as Walter Mondale's running mate, debated Vice President George Bush in 1984, said: "The first part of the debate . . . I thought Senator Quayle did quite well. As the time went on it got progressively worse. I felt that by the end he kind of lost it."

In an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," Ferrero suggested that "in all their negotiations, one of the things they should have done was limit the amount of time to a half hour, and I think it would have been OK for Senator Quayle last night."

The Texas senator's direct hit on Bush's running mate, reminding him he is "no Jack Kennedy," was a fair comment, Ferraro said.

After Quayle compared himself to President John F. Kennedy during the debate, Gov. Michael Dukakis's running mate responded, "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

"I don't think that Senator Bentsen took a cheap shot because what I think he is pointing out is that there is more to running for president . . . than the time in the Senate," Ferraro said.

"And he pointed that out when he talked about his experience as a war hero. Jack Kennedy matured on a PT boat during World War II. That's when he got the qualifications and developed as an individual in order to address the problems that are facing the nation as president 20 years later."