Dan Quayle Faces Task Of Carving Place For Himself

Posted: November 10, 1988

WASHINGTON — When Dan Quayle arrived at his new offices just a half-block from the White House yesterday morning, he was asked how tough it will be to organize the transformation of a junior senator into a vice president.

"It's a cinch," a smiling Quayle assured reporters.

But life-in-transition may not be so easy for him.

So far, George Bush has been noncommittal about what he wants his vice- president-elect to do - other than confirming yesterday that they would have lunch at the White House once a week.

And some Bush aides, still simmering over the Indiana senator's campaign clumsiness, hint that the out-of-sight, out-of-mind strategy used with Quayle since the Republican convention should apply to his treatment as vice president as well.

Thus Vice President Quayle may find himself scrambling, not only to avoid becoming invisible - an occupational hazard for every vice president - but to ensure that he is not isolated or ignored by White House staff.

"What Dan Quayle will have to do is earn his way into positions of responsibility," said a Bush aide. "Right now his only job is to be dull. He's got to do his homework, show up at meetings, speak from prepared texts - then responsibilities come."

"I think Dan Quayle is going to wish he was back in the Senate," adds Thomas Mann, director of governmental studies at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. "He's in for some very difficult, frustrating months."

Politically, Quayle comes into office with less standing than any vice president since Spiro T. Agnew. Before the GOP convention, few voters outside of Indiana had heard of him. And within days of his nomination, TV comedians were lampooning his National Guard record, his college grades, his

inexperience and his golf game.

To reduce the criticism - and the damage to the ticket - Quayle campaigned mostly in small cities, usually skirting the hotly contested states where he might attract media attention. Now, Quayle acknowledges he faces another, low- profile task.

"If I was concerned about shaping and reshaping my image, I'm going into probably one of the worst offices to do that," he said earlier this week.

So what is to be done with Vice President Quayle?

At his homecoming rally outside Washington on Monday, Bush said that Quayle will be "one of the great vice presidents."

Earlier, at a Houston news conference, he said Quayle "will have access to the papers, access to the intelligence, access to the information because it is essential that a vice president be up to speed on every sensitive matter involving the government, lest something happen to the president."

But Bush was vague about assignments for his 41-year-old vice president. In an interview last weekend, he dodged questions about Quayle's role in national security policy, an area in which Quayle has said Bush "leans" on him.

When asked if his running mate would head the "Special Situations Group," a job Bush held under Reagan, Bush replied, "That's one I hadn't even thought about."

Congress elbowed Quayle out of another job Bush held under Reagan, heading the fight against drugs. The omnibus drug bill passed last month established the post of national drug czar and specifically prohibited the vice president

from assuming that role.

Quayle's ability to forge his own role may also be hampered because there are few Quayle advocates on the Bush staff. In fact, some aides who defend

Quayle in public belittle him in private.

In contrast, when Bush became vice president, he had old allies in the Reagan administration, such as James A. Baker 3d, who was White House chief of staff and then treasury secretary. Quayle has no such advantage.

Quayle has 95 jobs to fill on his vice presidential staff, but it is unclear how much - if any - clout he will have in appointive posts at the White House or in agencies.

"Bush had a network and a constituency already in place, a team of people who had been through a national campaign with him, and Quayle just doesn't have that," said Peter Teeley, a Bush adviser.

But no one is discounting the importance of Bush, who empathized with

Quayle's campaign tribulations and is acutely aware of the difficulties of the vice presidential role.

"Dan Quayle has one very strong advocate in the White House - the president of the United States," said Daniel F. Evans Jr., the Indianapolis lawyer heading Quayle's transition team.

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