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Quayle Rips Dukakis On Belgian Endive And Waffle

September 16, 1988 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle accused Democrat Michael Dukakis on Friday of being so out of touch with the needs of farmers that ″his idea of farm production is growing flowers in Harvard Yard.″

″During the primary season last winter, our opponent responded that one of the answers to helping farmers was for them to grow different crops,″ Quayle told a fund-raiser here. ″He suggested blueberries and Belgian endive to pull farmers out of their economic doldrums.″

Quayle said the ″entire national market″ for Belgian endive is worth less than $10 million per year.

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″Now the Nebraska farm economy alone is about $7 billion in gross income,″ Quayle said. ″So if you start growing these little things, don’t count on paying off the farm debt.″

Quayle got a laugh from the crowd when he held up a head of endive, used in salads, to show them ″just how the man from Massachusetts thinks he can rebuild the farm economy,″

Republicans have been making hay of Dukakis’ endive remark, which he made in Iowa, since the Republican National Convention.

The Indiana senator, winding up a five-day campaign swing through the Midwest and Plains states, said Dukakis doesn’t understand the ″heartland of America″ and was ″out of touch with the people across America.″

″We need people who will listen to agriculture, not talk down to it,″ Quayle said. ″I reviewed the farm program of the governor of Massachusetts. His idea of farm production is growing flowers in Harvard Yard.″

Quayle said Dukakis also had switched ″back and forth″ so much on defense issues in recent days that ’I decided to sum it up this way: His farm policy is the Belgian endive and his defense policy is the Belgian waffle.″

The vice presidential candidate has increasingly employed a series of catchy one-liners this week as he attacked Dukakis.

In his speech, Quayle said a George Bush administration would open more markets abroad for U.S. agricultural products, support development of alternative fuels such as ethanol, which is made from grain, and focus more on rural economic development.

″We’ll get that capital gains tax down to 15 percent and that will help small businesses which means more jobs here in the heartland,″ Quayle said. ″I can also assure you that with us, you get folks who are experienced in lowering interest rates, lowering inflation, creating jobs, increasing productivity and keeping the peace,″

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He said Dukakis would ″jeopardize all those important elements of a stronger rural environment.″

At an aiport rally, Quayle said he could not wait for his Oct. 5 debate with his Demmocratic counterpart, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen. The debate will be held in Omaha.

″We’re going to have perhaps the greatest moment in my political life ... right here in Omaha when we have our debate,″ Quayle said.

Later, Quayle traveled to Des Moines for a fund-raiser and reception before flying home to Washington.