EASTON -- Republican office-seekers who favor abortion rights needn't fear the wrath of Marilyn Quayle -- at least not if they're good Republicans on other issues.
So said the wife of Vice President Dan Quayle yesterday in Talbot County, where she was the key attraction at a fund-raiser for Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest.
Mr. Gilchrest is a Republican who is seeking his second term in office in a tight race against Rep. Tom McMillen, a 4th District Democrat, in the newly drawn 1st Congressional District.
Almost 200 people paid $75 each to sit beneath a lawn tent and eat a chicken salad lunch with Mrs. Quayle and Mr. Gilchrest at Gross' Coate Inn, a 232-year-old estate on the banks of the Wye River outside Easton that recently opened to the public as a bed-and-breakfast retreat.
Although his House of Representatives voting record puts Mr. Gilchrest in good standing with President Bush on many issues, the former schoolteacher and house painter has never embraced the administration's anti-abortion position.
Asked at a post-luncheon gathering with reporters if she had trouble backing abortion-rights Republicans such as Mr. Gilchrest, Mrs. Quayle responded quickly.
"Not as long as they support the administration at least half the time," she said, adding that GOP candidates can decide on their own when to back the administration.
"They have the choice of which half, sure," she said.
Appearing tanned and relaxed, Mrs. Quayle told the luncheon gathering that the nation should seek the higher moral ground of "integrity, responsibility, morality, hard work and industry" espoused by its Colonial founders.
"We're losing our young people," she said. "Where is our demand of excellence from our children? Where is our demand for excellence from ourselves?"