In the winter of 1987-88, Sen. Dan Quayle of Indiana decided that he wanted the VP spot on the Republican ticket as the most “conservative” candidate. He started his quiet campaign by running the idea by my boss, Sen. Jesse Helms. After all, if Jesse wouldn’t support him, it would have been pointless to go any further.
With Helms on board, Quayle asked me to be his liaison in his outreach to movement conservatives. And so I worked as a volunteer right through the summer, reaching out to countless conservative groups and individual leaders, advocating Quayle as a corrective to George H.W. Bush’s natural penchant for the Rockefeller establishment wing of the party that Reagan had defeated eight years before.
Because I wanted to move out of Washington rather than write a book about it, I didn’t keep notes on these hundreds of conversations and meetings. I didn’t need to, really—conservatives know whether an individual is “one of us” or not.
During the Reagan years, there were many so-called conservatives who were decidedly not. How this came to pass is interesting.
In 1960, my father published Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative because no major publisher was interested in it. The book had been written to promote Goldwater’s candidacy for the Republican nomination that year. ...