Kudos to Dan Quayle

Betcha didn't expect that headline.

“Dan Quayle” by Gage Skidmore/ is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The NYT reports on a forthcoming new book by Bob Woodward that contains the following:

The book also reveals how Vice President Mike Pence struggled more than was publicly known over how to navigate Mr. Trump’s demands that he upend the election certification. Speaking privately to former Vice President Dan Quayle, who oversaw the certification of the 1992 election in which he was on the losing ticket, Mr. Pence appeared open to going along with Mr. Trump’s plan, pushed the false claim that Arizona’s voting results were wrong and asked whether there was any way he could delay certification.


In the days leading up to Jan. 6, Mr. Pence called Mr. Quayle, the only living Republican vice president forced to certify an election in which he was on the losing ticket.

Mr. Pence told him that the president was convinced that Mr. Pence could throw out the election results in order to keep himself in power.

“Mike, you have no flexibility on this,” Mr. Quayle told Mr. Pence. “None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away.”

“I know, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell Trump,” Mr. Pence said. “But he really thinks he can. And there are other guys in there saying I’ve got this power.”

Mr. Pence then echoed Mr. Trump’s false claims of election fraud. “Well, there’s some stuff out in Arizona,” Mr. Pence said.

“Mike, I live in Arizona,” Mr. Quayle said. “There’s nothing out here.”

Kudos to Quayle and shame on Pence for even having to ask.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Scott says:

    Glad it stopped there but game out what would’ve happened if Pence decided otherwise. How much trouble would the country be in. I imagine a lot. And how to ensure it can’t happen in the future.

  2. Jen says:

    First, good for Quayle.

    Second, my guess is that a lot of Republican leaders former and current, probably agree–but only those out of office and with no intention of running again will EVER find the backbone that Dan Quayle had here.

    Third, we need something pretty concrete to stop this nonsense from ever even being considered again.

  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    Third, we need something pretty concrete to stop this nonsense from ever even being considered again.

    And yet, we get nothing. NOTHING has happened to stop Jan. 6th from happening again. In fact, the leading Republican candidate in the California recall is already yelling about a rigged election, parroting Trump’s BIG LIE.
    In spite of these books, which make news for a week or so after being released, January 6th has been, for the most part, memory holed. It is likely to look like a practice run, within the next few years.

  4. CSK says:

    We do need to stop it, but that may be like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. Larry Elder is already claiming voter fraud in the California recall election.

    The MAGAs, by the way, are claiming that Pence’s right to reject the vote is enshrinedin the Constitution.

    With respect to Quayle, he may have gotten a bad rap with the “potatoe” business. I remember reading that the word was misspelled on the card he’d been given when he officiated at the spelling bee. Having known more than a few public schoolteachers who couldn’t spell, it wouldn’t surprise me.

  5. Kathy says:

    I say it takes two working brain cells to figure it out:

    If the VP could determine on their own the results of an election, then:

    1) Gore would have elected himself, Biden would have elected Clinton, and maybe Cheney would have picked McCain.

    2) America would be a peculiar republic-not-a-democracy with one Grand Elector who pretty much could do as they please, rendering the whole 2+ year exercise of primaries, conventions, elections, and Electoral College a huge farce that would make even Stalin blush.

  6. Jen says:

    Also, on this whole kerfuffle with the book (Peril), I find this jaw-dropping:

    The first call was prompted by Milley’s review of intelligence suggesting the Chinese believed the United States was preparing to attack. That belief, the authors write, was based on tensions over military exercises in the South China Sea, and deepened by Trump’s belligerent rhetoric toward China.

    “General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley told him. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”

    In the book’s account, Milley went so far as to pledge he would alert his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack, stressing the rapport they’d established through a backchannel. “General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”

    From the WaPo article about this.

  7. Mister Bluster says:

    Meet William Figueroa
    We Tracked Down The Kid Vice President Dan Quayle Made Misspell “Potato”
    There is one thing Figueroa is still upset about, though — that Quayle got to star in a commercial for potato chips and not him.
    “I’ve always been like, ‘Why didn’t I do a potato chip commercial?’” he said. “I should have been the one doing that.”

  8. dmichael says:

    I know that we are to take as gospel the writings of the famous Bob Woodward, but can we consider whose sources he used for this latest “revelation”? Does anyone doubt that one of them is the General who played military dress up with camo during the Trump Bible photo op after the streets were cleared of peaceful protesters by tear gas? Maybe he would like to have his reputation cleaned up? How about Dan Quayle? I assume that he was another source. Same question. These actions may (or may not) have happened. Bob Woodward is the guy who decided to not reveal Trump’s admission that Trump knew the virus was a killer and intentionally downplayed it. Woodward had a book to sell and releasing this information in time to help people wouldn’t assist him.

  9. Joe says:

    It takes a Hoosier, I guess.

  10. dazedandconfused says:


    There is no replacement for an educated, informed, and engaged electorate in a republic. Can’t be child-proofed.

    Carl Sagan’s prescience

  11. al Ameda says:

    Honestly, Mike Pence is the most pathetic and hapless man I’ve seen in the halls of power over the past 2 or 3 decades. The only thing he did right (luckily for us) in his 4 years near the White House, was to decline to steal the election.

    And yet … and yet … he still cowers before the former president who declined to call off the dogs who wanted to kill him. That practically defines ‘hapless.’

  12. Mister Bluster says:

    Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a candle in the dark is my Holy Book.
    The Enabling Scripture is the footnote on page 18:

    Although it’s hard for me to see a more profound cosmic connection than the astonishing findings of modern nuclear astrophysics: except for hydrogen, all the atoms that make each of us up – the iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones, the carbon in our brains – were manufactured in red giant stars thousands of light years away in space and billions of years ago in time. We are, as I like to say, starstuff.

  13. JohnMcC says:

    Going somewhat off-topic, I heard on CNN a report that Gen Milley discovered that plans for some sort of military action had been given by TFG to some commander in the Pentagon. But it had never gone through Nat’l Security Adviser, Sec’y of Defense, et al. Milley is reported to have walked into O’Brien’s office and surprised him with the scheme which the two were able to cancel.

    My google-fu is lacking today. When I tried to dig into this I turned up some propaganda from Sputnik News.

    Seemed more actually news-worthy than most of what the coverage of Woodward’s book has amounted to. And I’m in the dark.

  14. JohnMcC says:

    Oh! And yes! If the event with Pence and Quale happened as reported, a great bid attaboy for Mr Quale. And yes again! It’s obviously vital that there NEVER is any misunderstanding of the sort that Pence seems to have been uncertain about.

  15. dazedandconfused says:

    Highly unlikely Woodward would have quoted the conversation without having either Pence or Quayle’s permission, and it might have been both. I predict Pence will no-comment and Quayle will confirm.

  16. Kathy says:


    Maybe this one.

    I’m still reading it. So far there’s a order to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by Jan. 15th, without informing Milley or the other Chiefs about it. I wonder who’d have carried it out.

    Milley gets close to having a Cassius Chaerea, meaning he might have been severely punished for attempting to avert a major disaster.

  17. Scott says:

    @Kathy: The chain of command goes from President to Defense Secretary to the Unified Combatant Commanders. Afghanistan is under USCENTCOM run by General McKenzie, I believe.

    Milley and the other Joint Chiefs are in advisory roles.

    There have been some instances where I have suspicions that Trump never understood this organizational structure.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    Pence even asked? What a dweeb. And yes, one gold star for Quayle. No more. I guess these days a Republican gets credit for supporting black letter law Talk about grading on a curve

  19. CSK says:

    @al Ameda:
    MAGA World hates Pence’s guts. It was all for nothing.

  20. Scott says:

    Listening to the news and further revelations in Woodwards book, I starting to feel that there were a lot of people (Steve Bannon, for one) that edged very close to conspiracy to treason. Far more than just spewing disinformation and creating chaos but actual seditious behavior that may be chargeable. I leave it at that for now.

  21. inhumans99 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I respectfully disagree that 01/06/21 is memory holed already in the national psyche of America. Heck, The Bulwark site recently had an article talking about how the 01/06 commission continues to be a mistake for the GOP, that they had a chance to influence what people would write and say about the insurrection but screwed up by taking themselves basically off the commission (or maybe I read this in the WAPO, but my point still stands).

    Also, Elder can screech like the banshee from Darby O’Gill and the Little People all he wants but it sounds like he knows he is not going to be the next Governor of CA. CA is not TX or FL, or even GA, if Newsom is not recalled than that is that and life goes on and Elder can take another bite at the apple when 2022 rolls around. Most folks in this state will not humor Elder and just roll their eyes post-election if the results show that Newsom survived the recall but Elder wants to insist that the game was rigged.

    The mega rich in CA will tell Elder to shut up and move on as they just want to continue making their billions in this state. An insurrection on the steps of City Hall in Sacramento is bad for business and the wealthy on both sides of the political aisle understand this.

  22. Gustopher says:


    And yes, one gold star for Quayle. No more.

    He should have spoken out sooner, as it was happening. The Republicans in office were complete bootlickers, but the retired ones should have at least a tiny bit of spine.

  23. Raoul says:

    I like the comment I read over at LGM:
    Pence was doing so well until he fumbled the ball at the 95 yard line.

  24. Fortunato says:

    “Kudos to Dan Quayle” is akin to saying ‘Kudos to Norman Normal, M.D.’, for dissuading a fellow open heart surgeon from following the advise of an insane relative to simply cut his next patient in half with a band saw.

  25. DA says:

    I can’t understand why the GOP didn’t voice their belief that the incumbent VP has every right to unilaterally decide the outcome of the presidential election back in 2000 or 2016. I’m sure they’ll still think that in 2024, at least!

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: The version of the “potatoe” story that I heard was that the teacher in charge of the spelling bee deliberately misspelled the word on the card specifically to embarrass Quayle. I don’t know whether the story is true or that Republicans/conservatives have had a persecution complex for most of my adult life.

    (And have I ever mentioned that the Watergate hearings were a hatchet job on an honorable man?)

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott: I suspect that there are no reasons to be suspicious about FG not understanding anything. It’s safe to take not understanding as a given.