Barely a fortnight ago, apparently fully recovered from two recent hospital stays, Mr Quayle bounded on to a convention stage in his native Indiana and told an audience of 30,000 that he planned to run and would make a formal announcement by April. Fund-raising, however, seems to been quite another matter.
With key primaries now bunched into six or seven weeks between early February and late March, it is on longer possible for an outsider's bandwagon to start rolling belatedly in Iowa or New Hampshire. Republican strategists reckon a candidate must have $15m (£9.8m) to $20m in the bank before the primary season starts.
The former vice-presidentwas "extremely excited and fired up about running a campaign", said an aide. "But the financial aspect of it threw a bucket of cold water on his enthusiasm." Translated, that means Mr Quayle was finding it impossible to get solidcommitments of funds much beyond Indiana. The reasons seem to have been a belief that, even if nominated, image problems made him unelectable, and the earlier entry of rival contenders on the fund-raising circuit.
Now a Republican field which once promised to be huge has narrowed dramatically. Certain runners number only three: the Senate majority leader, Bob Dole, the early favourite, Senator Phil Gramm of Texas and the former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander. Mr Quayle's withdrawal could create room for the House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, or one or more governors to enter the lists. California's Pete Wilson would jump almost to the head of the pack; William Weld of Massachusetts is another possible.
Complicating matters further are the plans of Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a potential "black Eisenhower" whom Democrats and Republicans alike would love to claim as their own.
President Bill Clinton said Mr Quayle's decision left him "a little bit surprised ... I wish him well."Reuse content