In the mid-1980s one of President Ronald Reagan’s favorite speechwriters was the talented wordsmith Peggy Noonan.
She crafted some of Reagan’s most impressive speeches, including the one he delivered on the 40th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, as well as his televised message to the nation after the Challenger disaster in 1986.
And then, working with the presidential campaign of Vice President George HW Bush, Noonan came up with even more phrases that have stuck in our memories.
Along the way, Noonan became an accomplished speaker in her own right, and in 1998, wrote a book to help others facing the prospect of speaking in public.
She and I had many conversations over the years, of which this was one. So here now, from 1998, Peggy Noonan.
Peggy Noonan is 71 now, and still writes, speaks, and is often seen on TV. And, I suspect, she still gets butterflies or stomach.
In the summer of 1988 leaders of the Democratic party invited Texas State Treasurer Ann Richards to deliver a prime-time address at the Democratic National Convention.
Richards delivered. all right, in a big way, targeting Republican presidential nominee George H.W. Bush, who had just spent eight years as Ronald Reagan’s vice president. Richards delivered a takedown line that has lived forever: “He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”
I met Ann Richards in the fall of 1989 when she had just launched her campaign for governor of Texas.
So here now from 1989 Ann Richards.
Ann Richards won the election for governor in 1990, but served just one term.
Dan Quayle was a Republcian U.S. Senator from Indiana. and not a very well-known Senator, when George H.W. BuSh chose him as his 1988 running mate. Quayle took a lot of heat from critics who derided him as an intellectual lightweight.
Bush won that election, and Qualye became America’s 44th vice president.
But the 1992 camapign proved more difficult for Bush and Quayle.
It was in June of ’92 that Quayle visited an elementary school in New Jersey. It wa supposed to be just another routine campaign photo-op, a school spelling bee.
A 12-year-old boy went up the blackboard to spell his word, “potato.” But Quayle “corrected” him, insisting there was an “e” at the end of “potato.”
Things just kind of went downhjll from there.
I first met Dan Quayle about two years later, after he’d written a memoir. And as you’re about to hear, he had a sense of humor about The Potato Incident.
Here now, from 1994, Dan Quayle:
Dan Quayle is now 73. He lives with his wife Marilyn in retirement in Arizona. They’ve been married for 47