As the Vice President to the 41st president George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle always felt like he was a member of the Bush family, even another son.
“Once I became Vice President, we began a close relationship that has lasted until his death,” Quayle, 71, tells PEOPLE. “He brought me into his family, inviting me to many events and including me in everything at his homes in Houston and Kennebunkport.”
Quayle, who now lives in Arizona, most enjoyed his lobster and white wine lunches each summer on the ocean in Kennebunkport.
“I would go up there to see George and Barbara, and it was just the three of us having a wonderful meal and great talks,” he says. “We did it every year until recently when George’s health was failing.”
Before President Bush asked Quayle, who was a popular Senator from Indiana, to be his running mate in 1988, the two politicians had known each other for 10 years.
“George helped me get reelected to Congress and later advised my campaign for the Senate,” Quayle recalls.
In 1992, after serving their four-year term as President and Vice President, they suffered a stinging defeat by Bill Clinton and Al Gore over a lagging economy. But Bush, with his usual grace and empathy, didn’t let that bother him for too long.
“George took the time to send my three children gracious handwritten letters praising my service to the country,” Quayle says. “Marilyn and I so appreciated this. He told each of my children who were 18, 16, and 14 at the time how much he loved working with me even after experiencing the worst defeat. My children still have those letters.”
When negative comments were blasted across newspapers and on TV shows about either of them while in office, President Bush never discussed any of it with Vice President Quayle. His mantra was for both of them to keep working and serving the country in the most positive and productive way.
“George had been Vice President for eight years (1981-1989) under Ronald Reagan before he was President so he knew the nonsense that is part of politics, and he ignored it,” says Quayle, adding, “He just moved on from anything adversarial and focused on our jobs, and the good we did. He wants to be judged for his record, and he will be remembered for his work in world affairs and as the best one-term President in history.”
Quayle said President Bush had a rough time after Barbra died in April although he tried to keep a positive attitude for the rest of his family.
“After spending 73 years with Barbara it was tough, but he told me he hoped to live to be 100,” Quayle says. “He almost made it.”