Andrea Mitchell Gratuitously Drags Up ‘88 Debate Slam During Quayle Interview

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Friday used an interview with former Vice President Dan Quayle to gratuitously highlight Lloyd Bentsen’s famous 1988 slam, "You're no Jack Kennedy." Although Quayle appeared on "Andrea Mitchell Reports" to share his reflections on the passing of Ted Kennedy, the cable anchor sniped, "One of your toughest moments was during the debate with Lloyd Benson when you compared yourself to John F. Kennedy..."

As though Quayle was unfamiliar with what happened 21 years ago at the vice presidential debate, Mitchell recounted, "And Lloyd Bentsen memorably said, you know, 'I knew John Kennedy. I served with John Kennedy and you are no John Kennedy.’ What happened after that?"

Finally getting to some sort of Kennedy-related query, she quizzed, "I know it was a big hiccup in the road for you. You ended up being elected in any case, but how did Ted Kennedy reach out to you?" Quayle, not surprisingly, didn’t seem to enjoy the question and talked about how nice the Senator was to him during the ‘88 campaign. The former Vice President asserted that people who knew him, understood that he was up to the job. He then zinged Mitchell: "And people that didn't [know me], would sort of parrot what those of you in the media said at the time."

Backtracking somewhat, Mitchell responded, "I know we've all become caricatured and certainly politicians more than anyone else. And I know you went through all of that." She then moved on to standard questions reflecting on the life of Kennedy.

A transcript of the exchange, which occurred at 1:04pm EDT, follows:

ANDREA MITCHELL: Well, Mr. Vice President, obviously, there were moments, good moments and bad moments. One of your toughest moments was during the debate with Lloyd Benson when you compared yourself to John F. Kennedy, in terms of the amount of experience you had had in the Senate, comparing it to 1960, of course. And Lloyd Bentsen memorably said, you know, "I knew John Kennedy. I served with John Kennedy and you are no John Kennedy." What happened after that? I know it was a big hiccup in the road for you. You ended up being elected in any case, but how did Ted Kennedy reach out to you?

DAN QUAYLE: Well, it's very interesting. After that, he wrote me the very special note, handwritten. And it said something like this, "Dear Dan, I wish you all the very best in the campaign. However, without my vote." He said, "I will speak kindly or unkindly about you, whichever you think will help you the most. Best wishes, Ted." I still have that note. And it was a very special time. But, see, Ted Kennedy knew me. And, you know, when he spoke about me, he said, "Look, I disagree with him, but he knows what he's doing. He's up to the job." And people that knew me would say that. And people that didn't, would sort of parrot what those of you in the media said at the time.

MITCHELL: I know we've all become caricatured and certainly politicians more than anyone else. And I know you went through all of that. But there is the personal side and the way the Senate used to operate, not so much now, frankly. But Ted Kennedy knew your kids, families knew each other. Share a little bit about that.

QUAYLE: Well, when I first went to the Senate, he took me aside. He says, look, you've got three very young children. Take care of them. They're the most important thing to you. This job is important, but take care of those kids. And throughout my Senate career, he'd always ask about the kids, I'd ask about his kids. And Andrea, he knew the names of my kids. Now, how many other senators would know the names of their children? Not many. Maybe three or four. But, look, he loved family, he loved life, he had a passion for everything. And when Ted Kennedy would get involved in something, it was 110 percent. He didn't have a 50 percent or 90 percent, he was there all the way, full throttle.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org