Quayle’s Out Of 1996 Race For President Money Quest Takes The Place Of Early Primaries
Further contracting an already narrow Republican field, former Vice President Dan Quayle unexpectedly announced Thursday he would not seek the 1996 GOP presidential nomination.
Less than three weeks ago, Quayle declared in an Indianapolis speech he would enter the contest as a champion of conservative social values. But in a statement Thursday he said he did not want to put his family through “the disruption (of) … a third straight national campaign.”
With Quayle’s departure, the Republican field continued to shrink, despite ever-expanding party optimism about its prospects against President Clinton next year. Earlier this year former Cabinet secretaries Richard Cheney and Jack F. Kemp took themselves out of consideration, citing the contest’s huge fund-raising demands.
These high-profile departures underscore the extent to which the acceleration of the 1996 primary calendar is changing the fundamental dynamics of the presidential race. Republican candidates commonly assume that serious candidates need to raise as much as $20 million to $25 million this year, largely because so many states, including behemoths such as New York and California, have moved up their contests to the front end of the primary schedule next spring.
That enormous financial pressure appears to be assuming the function that voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, the traditional first contests, historically have played: thinning out the presidential field.
“The 1996 Republican primary calendar and the subsequent implications for our candidates in fundraising has taken the place of Iowa and New Hampshire in winnowing the field,” says Neil Newhouse, a GOP pollster whose firm has done work for Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole’s exploratory committee.
Though Quayle in his statement said he was convinced Whatever his reasons, Quayle’s decision
left the GOP with just three certain candidates: Texas Sen. Phil Gramm and former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, who plan to announce their candidacies later this month, and Dole, who has said he will formally enter the race in April.
Moderate Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter and conservative columnist Patrick J. Buchanan are actively exploring the race, and Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar said last week he will test the waters.
Also circling the starting gate are two potential long-shot candidates: former State Department official Alan Keyes and Orange County, Calif., Rep. Bob Dornan.
In a sense, Quayle’s departure could help all of the remaining contenders by removing a competitor for money and the attention of voters and the media. Newhouse said a survey his firm conducted in December found a plurality of Quayle supporters preferred Dole as their second choice; others speculated that the departure would most benefit Gramm by eliminating his principal competitor for the allegiance of the party’s most conservative wing.
The most tangible effect of Quayle’s departure, though, may be to intensify speculation about other potential entries to the race. “I think the race will be bigger than it is right now,” Kemp said at a conservative political conference in Washington.
Still believed to be considering the race are Govs. Pete Wilson of California, William Weld of Massachusetts and Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin; faint speculation also attaches to House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Secretary of State Jim Baker.