Marilyn Quayle declared a truce with the press yesterday, explaining that during the presidential campaign she felt "misunderstood, misrepresented, very angry and terribly vulnerable."

Speaking at the National Press Club, the vice president's wife conceded that the "baptism by fire" she and her family went through in 1988 prompted her to "put on my armor to do battle for my family, and in the process I froze some of you out. I regret that. Chalk it up to inexperience and protectiveness." And she offered an olive branch -- if not the tree.

"Let's meet halfway. I only ask for fairness and accuracy," she said.

Answering a question from the audience after her talk, she said that coverage of her husband since he has been in office has been generally fair and accurate, especially of the vice president's trips abroad -- although, she said, "one of the problems with being vice president is that you don't get coverage, so you can't tell if it's fair!"

Mrs. Quayle said that in interviews with media outside Washington, which she does frequently (usually with rigorous time limits, according to those who have had them), she is always asked about her previously unfriendly relationship with the national media. She said she hoped that yesterday's talk would "lay the matter to rest" and "move on."

On other matters, she promoted the cause of breast cancer awareness and research, in the interest of which she and her family will be donning athletic garb to "Race for the Cure" on June 16 here. She made a gentle pitch for more research funds.

Mrs. Quayle also brought the news that renovations at the vice presidential mansion should be completed in about three weeks, although they turned out to be more complicated than expected. When workmen removed a ceiling light in daughter Corinne's third-floor bedroom, she said, they found the surrounding timbers charred because of aging wiring. "We've been living in a firetrap," she said. They also found crumbling asbestos sheets in an area where vents pumped heat and air conditioning into the children's bedrooms, and decided that these units also had to be replaced. The renovations are being paid for with a combination of privately raised and public funds.

Meanwhile, the three children and their parents have been sharing the two bedrooms on the second floor. "We were a close family before," she said wryly. "I'm not sure any of us wants to continue being this close for much longer."