WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice President Dan Quayle says abortion "is not an issue" with the American people, and the controversy about the Republican Party's stand on it is "simply a creation" of the news media.
Flying back from a campaign trip Wednesday to Texas and Oklahoma, Quayle said that in the past month he has talked with "hundreds and hundreds of people" in coffee shops and shopping malls "and not one person has talked to me about abortion."
"It is not an issue with the American people," Quayle said.
On a separate matter, Quayle appeared restive about the delay in arranging debates between the White House rivals.
"I desperately want a debate," said Quayle, eager to demonstrate that he can stand his ground against his former colleague in the Senate, Al Gore of Tennessee.
"I just think it would be good for the country," he said. "It would be good for the American people to hear Al Gore (and) Dan Quayle debate because we are miles apart on almost every issues."
Quayle also said his running battle with the "Murphy Brown" show "is over. When talking about Hollywood, no longer am I going to mention specific television shows." The sitcom struck back at Quayle Monday night.
When a reporter noted that huge protest marches in Washington for and against abortion were not figments of the news media, Quayle replied, "It is a figment of your imagination if you think that this is an issue that is talked about a lot."
"It's simply not the coffee shop talk." said Quayle. "They're asking, 'What are you going to do about jobs?"'
The Republican platform calls for a total constitutional ban on abortion, with no exceptions. Quayle says he supports the platform, but a human life amendment is not under active consideration by Congress.
Instead, he said, he is trying to build support for laws like a Pennsylvania statute that requires a 24-hour waiting period for abortions and notification of teenagers' parents.
Quayle said his aim is to "save lives ... (and) change attitudes," not to shy away from the hard-line party stance.