Former Vice President Dan Quayle on Friday blamed multicultural teaching for much of the nation's rising racial tensions.

Efforts stressing racial diversity, Quayle said, "seek to turn America into a nation of groups rather than a nation of individuals.""We should focus on what unites us," Quayle told several thousand parents and officials from a large Christian school who came to the city's convention center.

Much of Quayle's speech focused on social and cultural issues. He strayed only briefly into partisan rhetoric when he cheered congressional Republicans for push-ing a budget that seeks to drastically reshape the federal government.

But Quayle's appearance - his second in Iowa this week - had political overtones in a state where leadoff caucuses next February launch the string of primaries and caucuses that will yield a GOP presidential nominee.

Quayle announced earlier this year that he wouldn't seek the nomination, and he has since signed on with a political action committee run by GOP front-runner Bob Dole. He has not endorsed Dole.

Quayle is a favorite among conservatives such as his audience Friday night. His association with Dole could ease doubts many conservatives have about the Senate majority leader's commitment to their causes.

In his speech, Quayle also attacked government programs aimed at the disadvantaged.

"The real work, the real business of compassion must be done by groups outside of government," Quayle said. "Religious groups and private charities offer something no bureaucracy can match.

"We don't want the government to do what we can do for each other," Quayle said.

Quayle stirred controversy in the 1992 presidential election campaign by seeking to focus attention on what he called "family values."