Quayle touts family values to group of religious farmers


You were ridiculed in the media.

Opponents questioned your intelligence.

Your re-election ticket received only 38 percent of the vote.

Former Vice President Dan Quayle, where are you going now?

The answer yesterday was not Disney World, Disneyland or even Euro Disney. Instead, Mr. Quayle found himself in Carroll County echoing the 1992 Bush-Quayle campaign themes to an organization of religious farmers.

"With that kind of enthusiasm, how'd we lose?" asked Mr. Quayle, who was greeted with a standing ovation by the Fellowship of Christian Farmers, Central Maryland Chapter. "I feel right at home."

More than 700 people packed the Wilhelm Ltd. Caterers hall in Westminster to hear the former vice president talk about family values, education and health care during a luncheon speech. The event's $15 tickets had sold out six weeks ago.

Organizer Wilson Lippy, a Hampstead farmer, said Mr. Quayle was the biggest celebrity ever to speak at the annual luncheon, and he could have sold four times as many tickets if the hall had been larger.

The last well-known government official to lecture the group was a deputy agriculture secretary seven years ago, he said.

"It was a little more political than I'd have liked it to be, but I thought it was a good speech," said Mr. Lippy, president of the group's parent organization, The Fellowship of Christian Farmers International.

"For a statesman to come out to a little place like Carroll County really shows that he's a real statesman."

The nonprofit group has no political affiliation, and the speech was billed as neither a fund-raiser nor a campaign stop. Mr. Quayle's stand on morality and his devout Christian beliefs are shared by many rural farmers, organizers said.

For a $100 contribution, guests were ushered to a private reception before the lunch where they could be photographed with Mr. Quayle. Reporters were barred from that session, and news media were not allowed to talk to Mr. Quayle during the luncheon.

Donald Frazier, a machinist from Manchester, and his wife, Robin, paid the extra money to get Mr. Quayle to autograph a souvenir plate from the inauguration in 1988. He said he found Mr. Quayle "very impressive" and admired him for "taking so much heat about his faith."

Mr. Lippy said the $100 contributions will further the fellowship's ministry and that Mr. Quayle was paid only a nominal fee to cover his travel costs. He declined to disclose the amount.

In his speech, Mr. Quayle said the problems facing the family remain at the core of this country's woes. He said he was "delighted" President Clinton recently read his infamous "Murphy Brown" speech and found himself in agreement.

"Every one of our problems can be traced to the family, the dysfunctional family, the lack of a cohesive family," Mr. Quayle said. "What is our nation's character when 80 percent of the babies born in our cities are to unwed mothers?"

To remedy the situation, Mr. Quayle said he would change the tax laws to allow greater deductions for dependents and eliminate the marriage penalty. He said that divorce laws must be changed to make children's issues paramount, that welfare must be "radically" reformed and that TV ads should be produced to stress parents' responsibilities.

Mr. Quayle said he opposes President Clinton's health care reform efforts, which he said amount to "socialized medicine." He also criticized the president for axing the anti-regulatory White House Council on Competitiveness, which he headed.

"They couldn't even get the right speech in a TelePrompTer, but they want to fix the health care system," said Mr. Quayle, referring to Mr. Clinton's health care speech on Sept. 22. "When did the government run anything and save money?"

Since he and President Bush were defeated in November 1992, Mr. Quayle said he and his family have moved to Indiana where he has been writing his autobiography, "Standing Firm," which is due in bookstores in May.

With so many GOP sympathizers under a single roof yesterday, the event proved irresistible to Republicans running for office.

Gubernatorial candidates Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey, William S. Shepard and Rep. Helen D. Bentley attended as did former Tennessee Sen. William E. Brock, who wants to unseat Democratic Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.

"I think my vision of government is quite similar to Dan Quayle's," said Delegate Sauerbrey. "Dan Quayle very clearly stood for something that has resonance with the voters."

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