Quayle: Obama’s challenge is taming leftist Dems
July 19, 2009
STATELINE – Former Vice President Dan Quayle gives President Barack Obama high marks for surrounding himself with quality advisers on national security and the economy. But Quayle says it’s not yet clear whether Obama’s Democratic administration will govern more liberally than he campaigned.
“I think his biggest challenge is to tame the left wing of his party,” Quayle said in an interview with The Associated Press at Lake Tahoe.
“I guess we’ll find out how ‘left’ Obama really is, because he’s going to have to make some very tough decisions where he is either going to have to go with the left wing of his party or stare them down and govern more like (ex-president Bill) Clinton governed, which is sort of center-left,” said the Republican who served in the first Bush administration.
Quayle, who is playing golf at Lake Tahoe through the weekend at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship, said Democrats had been out of power for eight years so “they just tried to throw everything out there and see what stuck.”
Quayle said Obama ran a “center-left” campaign to get elected, similar to how Quayle and President George H.W. Bush ran “center-right.”
“That’s the normal situation. Same way with Reagan,” Quayle said in an interview after he finished his opening round Friday in a group with former Notre Dame basketball coach Digger Phelps and television personality Maury Povich.
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“Now I think they will have to make some tough decisions,” Quayle said. “He knows the deficit is menacing. Whether he is willing to stare down the left wing of his party and say, ‘Guys, we’ve got to get this budget in order before we take on too many things,’ I don’t know.”
Obama has surrounded himself with “good people” to advise on the economy and national security, Quayle said. He singled out as “solid” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, budget director Peter Orszag and Lawrence Summers, head of the National Economic Council.
“He has a strong national security adviser, strong State Department and Defense Department,” the former Indiana senator said.
But Quayle said he’s curious about the Obama administration’s division of oversight traditionally left to the secretary of state. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has tended to leave the heavy lifting in the world’s most volatile hotspots to seasoned special envoys like Richard Holbrooke, who is tackling the Afghanistan-Pakistan problem, and Dennis Ross, special adviser on Iran and the Persian Gulf. Clinton has focused on Europe, Asia, Latin America and Mideast peace.
“I’m not exactly sure how that’s all going to work out because sometimes you get into all sorts of turf fights and things of that sort,” Quayle said.
As for the GOP, Quayle said the best thing the party may have going for it right now is the Democratic leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., which he views as a negative.
“We’re the out party now. We just need to focus on these congressional elections. I think Pelosi and Reid will help us in that endeavor.”
Quayle is now chairman of the international division of Cerberus Capital Management, a multi-billion dollar private equity fund, and president of Quayle and Associates.