The recurring criticism of Senator Quayle’s lack of experience – especially if became necessary for him to take over the presidency – became a heated topic during the debate.
Quayle, frustrated with having to answer the same question three times, compared his amount of experience to that of Kennedy when he ran for the office:
“I will be prepared not only because of my service in the Congress, but because of my ability to communicate and to lead,” Quayle said. “It is not just age; it's accomplishments, it's experience. I have far more experience than many others that sought the office of vice president of this country. I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency.”
Quayle had anticipated that Senator Bentsen might respond in that way, but he had not expected the audience to shout and applaud.
“What I wasn't anticipating was the crowd getting involved as much, and they got very involved, as you can listen on the tape,” Quayle told PBS's Lehrer in 2008. “That I did not expect because there were certain rules or understanding that you had that the crowd was to be there to observe, and not to participate. And they did, and I wasn't prepared for that, but I was somewhat prepared for his line. It was a good line.”