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In Quayle’s Hometown, Pride Comes Before Politics

August 17, 1988

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (AP) _ Residents of Dan Quayle’s hometown are beaming with pride, shaking off their surprise and putting partisan politics aside as they prepare a welcome for the GOP’s soon-to-be vice presidential candidate.

With George Bush’s selection of Quayle as his running mate, Huntington’s favorite son became overnight the favorite of GOP delegates from thousands of American hometowns.

″I’m really happy to see a younger person get involved,″ said Maxine Miller, a Republican and 42-year resident of Huntington. ″I think the country needs that.″

Delegates to the Republican National Convention in New Orleans will ratify Quayle’s selection after formally handing Bush the presidential nomination Wednesday.

Huntington’s 16,000 residents will get their first glimpse of Quayle as a vice presidential candidate when he returns Friday with Bush for a noon ceremony at the courthouse.

By Wednesday afternoon, the town was shaking off its surprise that the 41- year-old Quayle had bested competition from older and better-known candidates.

″I guess (Sen. Robert) Dole and (Rep. Jack) Kemp weren’t my choices, and I didn’t think it would be a woman,″ said Ms. Miller over lunch Nick’s Kitchen, where Quayle often stops for coffee. ″You don’t hear bad things about him around the town or the county.″

During his two terms in the House and eight years in the Senate, Quayle appears to have ruffled few feathers back home, even among Democrats.

″I’m sure we’ll have a good turn out Friday,″ said Mayor Ron Schenkel, a Democrat and Quayle’s former high school classmate. ″It’s not going to be just a Republican rally. I’m sure I won’t be the only Democrat there.″

Russell J. McCurdy, 71, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, says he’s another likely Democratic voter who will attend the rally. ″More power to a local man that has made good and done good,″ he said.

But the staunch conservatism of the Quayle family and of The Herald-Press newspaper published by his father does raise the partisan wrath of some, including Ray Ade, a retired Democratic circuit court judge.

″I know his father - nice man, fine fellow. But I’ve never heard Dan say a decent word about a Democrat, and that’s about the way I feel about him,″ said Ade. ″There’s nothing wrong about Dan, but I’ve never heard anything great about him, either.″

Despite the election of an occasional Democrat, Huntington is a politically conservative city built by Irish and German immigrants and dependent on light industry for jobs since the Erie-Lackawana Railroad failed, says Michael V. Perkins, the managing editor of The Herald-Press.

Quayle’s father, James, owns the paper, and Quayle himself worked as business manager in the 1970s before entering politics.

″I think the community is surprised and proud and looking forward for the opportunity to put its best foot forward,″ Perkins said.

Virgyle Hougendobler, an electrical contractor who rewired the Quayle home when the senator was a boy, remembers the youthful Quayle as quick-minded.

″He was always curious. He was always around behind you, seeing what was going on,″ he said.

In later years, Hougendobler said, ″He was always kind of fun to run into because his mind was always running.″

Schenkel says he wasn’t among Quayle’s close friends in high school, but remembers him as a ″normal″ student.

″He liked to raise hell, like all of us at that age, and have a good time,″ he said. ″He was just a regular guy.″

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