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Bush's diary reads: `I blew it'

Within days of selecting Dan Quayle for the 1988 vice presidential nomination, George Bush wrote in his diary: "I blew it."

In a new biography of the former president, historian Herbert S. Parmet wrote that as Quayle became the butt of jokes, Bush "did everything he could to show his confidence in the younger man."But in his diary, Bush said: "It was my decision, and I blew it, but I'm not about to say that I blew it."

A Bush spokesman said the quote was taken out of context. Bush was talking about how the media would use the selection to bash his management style, spokesman Jim McGrath said Saturday.

"We checked all the subsequent diary entries," McGrath said. "Bush always voices confidence that Quayle would survive the feeding frenzy and go on to be the great vice president that he was. He never wavers."

McGrath said Bush recorded his diary on tape, and Parmet had used a transcript.

A publicity release distributed with "George Bush, The Life of a Lone Star Yankee" said Parmet in writing the book had exclusive access to personal letters and journal entries.

Parmet wrote that Bush decided to choose Quayle as his running mate after the Indiana senator said in a television interview the day before the convention opened that "the themes, the issues, the articulation on the campaign will be George Bush's."

But no sooner had Quayle been chosen than stories appeared that he had joined the Indiana National Guard to avoid service in Vietnam.

Quayle was out of the country Saturday and unavailable for comment.

Parmet also described the 1980 convention at which Ronald Reagan flirted with the idea of naming former president Gerald Ford as his running mate, but at the last minute chose Bush.

"I want to be very frank with you, I have strong reservations about George Bush. I'm concerned about turning the country over to him," Reagan is quoted as telling a friend.

At the last minute, Reagan and his advisers decided an arrangement in which Ford would become a virtual co-president was unworkable.

But first, Reagan told Bush: "If you're on my ticket, I expect you to support me on the issue of abortion."

Bush went on to become a model vice president, never publicly differing with Reagan on any issue.

During his losing 1992 campaign, Bush, apparently aware he was likely to lose the presidency, spoke nostalgically into a tape recorder about the presidential retreat at Camp David.

"I love my little office there," he said. "And I love Aspen Lodge, where I can sit and relax and enjoy life, and there are no press conferences anywhere near."

Of Washington, he said: "It is a beautiful city to which I probably won't return if I do not win this election. That's all right: We'll just shift gears. I still have this quiet confidence of winning, and I believe we're going to do it."