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Dan Quayle

On 15 June 1992, US vice president Dan Quayle instructed a student to spell ‘potato’ by adding an ‘e’ to the end during a spelling bee arranged as a photo opportunity.

Quayle becomes notorious for his foot-in-mouth quotes such as; “If we don’t succeed we run the risk of failure” and “a low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls”.


James Danforth Quayle was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1947.

After spending much of his youth in Arizona, he returned to Indiana and graduated from Huntington North High School in Huntington in 1965. He then matriculated at DePauw University, where he received his BA in political science in 1969.

After graduating, Quayle joined the Indiana National Guard and served from 1969 to 1975, reaching the rank of sergeant; his joining meant that he was not subject to the draft.

While serving in the Guard, he earned a Juris Doctor (JD) degree in 1974 at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. There, he met his future wife, Marilyn, who was taking night classes at the same law school at the time.

Quayle became an investigator for the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General in July 1971. Later that year, he became an administrative assistant to Governor Edgar Whitcomb. From 1973 to 1974, he was the Director of the Inheritance Tax Division of the Indiana Department of Revenue.

After graduating from law school in 1974, Quayle worked as associate publisher of his family’s newspaper, the Huntington Herald-Press.

In 1976, Quayle was elected to the House of Representatives. He was reelected in 1978.

In November 1978, Congressman Leo Ryan of California invited Quayle to accompany him on a delegation to investigate unsafe conditions at the Jonestown settlement in Guyana, but Quayle was unable to participate. The decision likely saved Quayle’s life, because Ryan and his entourage were subsequently murdered at the airstrip in Jonestown as the party tried to escape the massacre.

In 1980, at age 33, Quayle became the youngest person ever elected to the Senate from the state of Indiana, defeating three-term incumbent Democrat Birch Bayh with 54% of the vote.

On 16 August 1988, George HW Bush chose Quayle to be his running mate in the 1988 United States presidential election.