Remember the four year running joke of the George H.W. Bush administration? In case you have forgotten, the punchline was his vice president, Dan Quayle. He was considered too young, inexperienced and not too bright when Bush picked him as his 1988 running mate, and he went about proving all of it true during his four years in office. His most famous gaffe came when he “corrected” a student’s spelling of “p-o-t-a-t-o,” insisting that there was an “e” on the end.
The former VP has kept a relatively low profile for most of the years since he was sent back home to Indiana when Bill Clinton won the White House in 1992. But for some reason NBC’s Today Show was interested in what he thinks about the 2016 race, so he sat down with hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie to offer his opinions about Trump, Clinton and the race in general. Of course this is Dan Quayle, so he said a few strange things.
The conversation begins with some introductory pleasantries, and the obligatory talk about “party unity” behind candidate Trump. Quayle says that he believes that House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has so far declined to officially endorse Trump, will eventually come around to support the nominee. Then Lauer cuts to the chase with the former vice president.
In all honesty, your qualifications were questioned when you became vice president. People worried whether you had the experience to be vice president, or president if that would happen. Do you think Donald Trump has the experience, the knowledge and the temperament to be president?
Quayle offers a not-so-comforting answer. “We’re gonna find out,” he says.
He follows that comment with an observation reminiscent of the “Etch-a-Sketch” comment made by Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom four years ago.
He [Trump] has to show that he’s ‘presidential.’ He’s not running in a primary any more. He’s won that. Now he’s gotta figure out how to win the general election.
Trump’s problem, like that of Romney before him, is that he now has to figure out a way to sound reasonable to millions of non-Republican Americans. This after spending over a year trying to appeal to the low-information, low-IQ voters affectionately known as the “Republican base.” No matter how rational and reasonable the reality TV star tries to sound now, he is going to get hit with every clip and sound bite of him sounding batshit crazy during the primary campaign.
But perhaps the strangest part of Quayle’s comments comes when he offers his thoughts on whether Trump is more qualified to be president than Hillary Clinton. He says,
On paper, you’d say she’s more qualified. But you know what? He’s more qualified in the sense that the American people I think want an outsider. They want an outsider this time. She is not an outsider, so if you’re looking for an outsider, she’s not qualified and he is.
It’s interesting that being an “outsider” is considered a qualification for president. But hey, it’s Dan Quayle. And Mr. Vice President? There’s no “e” in “potato.”
Here’s the former VP’s interview, via Today:
Featured image via Today Show screen capture