"There's a time to stay and there's a time to fold. There's a time to know when to leave the stage. Thus today I am announcing that I will no longer be a candidate for president of the United States." And so former vice president Dan Quayle withdrew from the presidential race yesterday.

Referring to Texas Gov. George W. Bush, Quayle told a Phoenix news conference: "I was facing a campaign where the front-runner would have up to $100 million to spend, and an unprecedented front-loading of the primary system made the task for me of winning the nomination of my party virtually impossible."

Quayle pledged to work to unite the Republican Party and said he would support the nominee. "I want to see the Republicans recapture the White House," he said. "It is time that we restore honor, dignity and decency to the Oval Office."

In Texas, Bush wished Quayle well. "I think any time you have your heart set on a race and it doesn't go well, it's got to be a tough call," he said.

Quayle said he leaves the race with his "head held high. I am proud of what I accomplished."

Quayle's campaign has been in serious trouble since Aug. 14, when he finished eighth in Iowa's GOP straw poll. Quayle then shifted all his resources to New Hampshire, and he said yesterday that he believed he would do well there, but would not have the money to be competitive in the remaining primaries.

Bush's 'Pioneers' Powwow

George W. Bush's top fund-raisers came to Washington yesterday, seeking to rally the campaign's six-figure "Pioneers" to keep on bringing in the bucks.

"The idea is to keep the machine going forward," said attorney James C. Langdon Jr., who is leading the D.C. money effort. Overall, 150 individuals have already earned Pioneer status by raising $100,000 or more for the Bush campaign.

Yesterday's lunch for 45 at the Metropolitan Club featured Bush finance chairman Donald L. Evans and James Francis, a Bush Texas friend heading the Pioneers. The campaign's next Washington fund-raiser is a November event featuring Laura Bush, the governor's wife.

Not attending yesterday was Wayne L. Berman, a D.C. business consultant who has helped lead Bush's fund-raising. In recent weeks, Berman's name has surfaced in connection with a federal investigation of the former Connecticut state treasurer, who was later hired by Berman. As a result, Berman said, he has decided to stop all Bush fund-raising.

"I decided to put myself on the bench temporarily," Berman said, "because I don't want this to be a subject the campaign has to deal with."

Last week, the former treasurer, Paul J. Silvester, pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. The Hartford Courant reported that prosecutors are "looking closely" at Berman, citing sources who said Berman received more than $900,000 in fees as a result of Silvester's investments. Berman hired Silvester soon after the treasurer left office in January.

Berman said he has not stepped aside from his fund-raising for the Republican Governors Association. His decision was first reported yesterday in the Wall Street Journal.

Gore's Court Advantage

Bill Bradley is not the only Democratic candidate to score points on the basketball court. Vice President Gore last night won the endorsement of Shaquille O'Neal, All-Star center for the Los Angeles Lakers.

CAPTION: Dan Quayle is joined by his wife, Marilyn, as he bows out of the race.