Tales from the Trail

President Dan Quayle? Yes, it almost happened, for a few hours back in 1991.

Dan Quayle’s endorsement of Republican Mitt Romney in Arizona on Tuesday brings to mind Quayle’s tenure as vice president for President George H.W. Bush back in the early 1990s, and the time he almost assumed the powers of the presidency.

Here’s what happened.

Bush suffered a rapid heartbeat while jogging at Camp David on May 4, 1991, and was rushed to Bethesda Naval Medical Center for treatment.

At the time, there were immediate fears that Bush had a heart attack. Communications among White House staff and the press corps were difficult in this pre-Blackberry era, and there was a lot of confusion.

At the hospital, Bush was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation related to a thyroid disease. Doctors thought they might have to give his heart an electric jolt to shock it back into a normal rhythm, which would have required Bush to go under anesthesia, making him incapacitated for a brief period. White House staffers drew up papers invoking the U.S. Constitution’s 25th amendment, which would transfer power to Quayle as acting president.

Americans were generally not thrilled with this prospect, since Quayle had once famously misspelled “potato” as “potatoe” for schoolchildren and had for the most part not distinguished himself in the job a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Democrats hit Romney on “Band-Aid” comment

By Jason McLure

Even as Newt Gingrich has soared to the top of most Republican presidential polls, Democrats continue to focus their attacks on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Today New Hampshire and Iowa Democrats unveiled a new website attacking Romney for calling the president’s jobs bill a “temporary little band aid” during a debate in October.

Democrats say passing the jobs bill, which would extend a payroll tax cut for employees, would save the average family $1,500 next year – or “four months of groceries, over seven months of gasoline, an electric bill for an entire year,” according to a video on the site, littlebandaids.com.

It also takes a swipe at Romney’s wealth, estimated to be around $250 million, with the line “$1,500 might be a Band-Aid to Mitt Romney, but to a middle-class family, $1,500 goes a long way.”

Romney opens ad offensive against Obama

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s first television commercial attacking Barack Obama’s record  hits the airwaves in New Hampshire on Tuesday — just in time to welcome the president on a  visit to the early primary state.

A discussion of jobs was on the agenda for Obama’s quick trip to a high school in Manchester. But Romney didn’t wait for the president’s arrival.

The former Massachusetts governor previewed his new  ad Monday night on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” show.

Washington Extra – Turkey talks

The good news? Thanksgiving will not be interrupted by eleventh-hour negotiations by the “super committee” to strike a deal to cut the burgeoning deficit. After months of work, the 11 men and one woman called it quits today. Their statement said “it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement.” No mention of the word on everyone’s tongues: failure.

Even in the early days of the super committee, we are learning, hope was in short supply. At one of the early breakfast meetings, members kept saying how hard it would be to reach agreement. South Carolina’s  Democratic Representative James Clyburn said to his fellow panel members: “Do you want to know what’s hard? Desegregating South Carolina in the 1950s. I met my wife in jail.”

Right now, it’s hard to believe this Congress “can build on this committee’s work,” as the committee co-chairs said hopefully in their statement. There seems to be little faith left on the Hill. Just look at the harsh words from Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, who said the panel’s failure “represents yet another regrettable milestone in Congress’s steady march toward abject ineffectiveness.”

Highlights from the GOP Thanksgiving Family Forum

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Six of the Republican presidential candidates met at the First Federated Church in Des Moines, Iowa, last night for a dinnertime “family discussion” at the Thanksgiving Family Forum. Gathered around a wooden table garnished with a centerpiece of artificial pumpkins, moderator Frank Luntz asked Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum about their views on social issues, morality, personal responsibility, and God. Neither of the two Mormon candidates, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, were in attendance. Here are some of the most memorable moments:

1. Gingrich tells OWS: “Go get a job — right after you take a bath.”

Asked about the role of personal responsibility in society, Gingrich quoted John Smith (of Pocahontas fame): “In 1607 in the first English speaking permanent colony, [Smith said] to the aristocrats who had paid their way and didn’t want to work: ‘If you don’t work, you won’t eat.’”

The same principle, he said, should apply to Occupy Wall Street protesters, all of whom “start with a premise that we all owe them everything.”

Gingrich fascinated by Romney computer wipe

Republican Newt Gingrich had not heard of a controversy surrounding some of the final actions of rival Mitt Romney’s staff when Romney was governor of Massachusetts, but suggested the ploy might even turn up in one of his books in the future.

The Boston Globe reported this week that when Romney was leaving the statehouse in 2006 after one term as governor, eleven of his staff were allowed to use their own money to purchase their work computers’ hard drives, and the Romney administration’s emails were all wiped from a server.

“They did what?” Gingrich said when asked about it at a press conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after a film screening. “I’m now in non-candidate mode, of simply being curious as a citizen.”

Herman Cain promises more “Powerful Pauses”

White House hopeful Herman Cain defended his now infamous “Milwaukee pause” while stumping in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday, and even termed a new phrase putting a positive spin on his apparent gaffe.

Earlier this week Cain stumbled in an interview at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, pausing at length when asked a question about U.S. policy in Libya.

“Unlike politicians, I don’t shoot from the lip,” Cain told Reuters at the Airport Diner, saying that as a businessman he takes in information and considers it before responding.

Cain seeks “Cuban” lesson in Miami

Herman Cain landed in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood on Wednesday and tried out his signature “9-9-9″ tax proposal in Spanish — “nueve, nueve, nueve” — (just the numbers, not the details).

After sampling Cuban coffee and a croqueta the Republican presidential candidate and former pizza executive asked: “How do you say ‘delicious’ in Cuban?” Here’s video from Fox News.


Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com

Front Photo Credit: REUTERS/Joe Skipper (Cain at ‘Versailles’ restaurant in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood)

Washington Extra – Patriotic millionaires

As Democrats and Republicans hunkered down on opposite sides of the Capitol on Wednesday, showing no signs of a compromise on slashing the deficit, a group called the Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength made its move.

Nearly 140 members wrote a letter to President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to “do the right thing” and “raise our taxes.” Next they hit up the bipartisan “super committee,” laboring under a Nov. 23 deadline to reach agreement on the deficit or trigger unpalatable budget cuts.

One of the corporate patriots said if Congress ended Bush-era tax cuts it would affect him and his fellow millionaires in his group “about as much as a dead fly interrupts a picnic.”

Newt goes back to school

Newt Gingrich may not have thrilled a crowd of Iowa school kids with all of his answers on Tuesday, but he cannot be accused of pandering to them.

Gingrich didn’t score points with the 200 or so middle and high schoolers  in Osage, Iowa, with his answer to the U.S. falling behind in the brain race with China.

“You’ve got to study more,” he told the kids, who stared back. “Scores in the end aren’t the teacher’s problem; they are the student’s problem.”