History might be written by the winners, but presidential politics is often shaped by the Long Shots. In a new podcast series from Inside Voices, veteran journalist Conor Powell and executive producer Gary Scott explore eight presidential candidates who lost the race for the White House but permanently changed America’s political landscape – right up to today.
I’ve got a theme song for our campaign. Listen to it. “We Crazy…Crazy for feeling so lonely……..
ON THE LAST DAY OF THE 1992 ELECTION, WHILE HIS DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN RIVALS CRISS CROSSED THE COUNTRY, ROSS PEROT TOOK TO THE STAGE IN DALLAS, TEXAS AND PLAYFULLY MOCKED HIS ENTIRE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.
TO THE DELIGHT OF SOME FOUR THOUSAND SUPPORTERS, AND AT PEROT’S REQUEST, THE IN-HOUSE BAND, BEGAN TO PLAY PATSY CLINE’S 1961 COUNTRY BALLAD – CRAZY
A SONG ABOUT BEING – HOPELESSLY – IN LOVE.
AS CAMPAIGN SONGS GO, IT WAS – BOTH – AN UTTERLY BIZARRE CHOICE.
AND PERFECTLY FITTING.
IT WAS ONE LAST ACT OF POLITICAL DEFIANCE – BY A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE WHO DEFIED ALL POLITICAL CONVENTION.
*** Ross Perot ***
Don’t worry folks we got buses to take you back to the insane asylum right after this over. Be all right.
PEROT WASN’T CRAZY. AT LEAST NOT IN A CLINICAL SENSE.
THOUGH HIS POLITICAL OPPONENTS, AND MANY IN THE MEDIA CALLED HIM NUTS.
He was such a funny little character. Even though he was a brilliant man
FOR MONTHS THE FUNNY LOOKING, TWANGY TEXAS BILLIONAIRE PROMISED VOTERS THEY COULD TAKE BACK AMERICA FROM THE QUOTE CESSPOOL OF GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRATS AND ALLIGATOR SKIN BOOT WEARING LOBBYISTS.
*** Ross Perot ***
It is time to take out the trash and clean out the barn.
PEROT RODE A WAVE OF VOTER ANGER FROM LONG SHOT TO FRONT RUNNER IN THE SPRING OF 1992.
WHILE AMERICA WATCHED – THE DIZZYING AND OFTEN TURBULENT ROLLER COASTER RIDE -THAT WAS HIS CAMPAIGN.
RUNNING AS A SELF FUNDED INDEPENDENT WILLING TO SPEND 60 MILLION DOLLARS OF HIS OWN FORTUNE, PEROT RE-INVIGORATED AMERICAN POPULISM BY HARNESSING THE POWER OF TELEVISION IN A WAY NO ONE HAD EVER DONE BEFORE.
When I looked at what Perot was looking to spend it seemed like this could be a completely revolutionary way of trying to running for president.
AT A TIME WHEN PUBLIC TRUST IN GOVERNMENT HAD PLUMMETED, HE CHASTISED BOTH DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS FOR BEING IN THE POCKET OF CAPITOL HILL LOBBYISTS AND SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS.
HE WARNED WORKERS OF THE ECONOMIC DISASTER THE PENDING NORTH AMERICA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WOULD PRODUCE FOR THEM.
AND HE BERATED AMERICA’S POLITICIANS FOR A BALLOONING FEDERAL DEFICIT.
*** Ross Perot ***
“We cannot spend our children’s money. We are looking on the edge of a revolution of people who are starting to realize, we, our generation, as put them four trillion in debt. They don’t like it. And they shouldn’t
AMERICA HAS SEEN THIRD PARTY CHALLENGERS AND CONVENTIONAL POLITICIANS SHAKE UP THE POLITICAL SYSTEM BEFORE.
BUT NO ONE, RE-WROTE, RE-ARRANGED, RE-DREW, THE NATIONAL DEBATE QUITE LIKE PEROT -WHO PROMOTED HIMSELF AS A SAVOIR TO THE NATION
He was just a cultural phenomenon.
PEROT PROVED THAT SOMEONE WITHOUT CONVENTIONAL POLITICAL AND GOVERNING EXPERIENCE COULD, AND SHOULD, BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY
HE ALSO REVEALED THE CHAOS AN UNPREDICTABLE OUTSIDER MIGHT BRING ALONG WITH HIM.
**** LONG SHOTS BUMPER****
*** Ross Perot ***
I have lived the American dream. No one has been luckier than I have
ROSS PEROT DIDN’T START LIFE AS AN ECCENTRIC BILLIONAIRE.
BUT INSTEAD, WAS BORN DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION IN WHAT TEXANS CALL A TWO HORSE TOWN.
AS A YOUNG BOY IN TEXARKANA, PEROT GOT AN EARLY START IN BUSINESS –
FIRST, DELIVERING NEWSPAPERS FROM THE SADDLE OF A PONY
AND THEN, LATER AS A COUNTRY HUSTLER OF SORTS.
BUYING AND SELLING EQUIPMENT AND ANIMALS IN HOPES OF MAKING A QUICK BUCK.
AFTER GRADUATING FROM THE NAVAL ACADEMY AND SERVING IN THE NAVY, PEROT RETURNED HOME TO TEXAS TO WORK FOR I-B-M.
HE LEFT TO LAUNCH HIS OWN COMPANY, ELECTRONIC DATA SYSTEMS IN 1962.
PROCESSING AND MODERNIZING MEDICARE RECORDS FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MADE PEROT- AMERICA’S FIRST TECH BILLIONAIRE AND ONE OF THE MOST POLITICALLY CONNECTED BUSINESSMEN IN THE COUNTRY.
I became aware of Ross Perot when I was still covering Capitol Hill.
THAT IS NBC NEWS – LONG TIME CORRESPONDENT, AND ANCHOR ANDREA MITCHELL.
DURING THE REAGAN ADMINISTRATION, SHE SAYS PEROT WAS A FIXTURE IN WASHINGTON.
ALWAYS OUTSPOKEN, PEROT HAD LONG ADVOCATED FOR THE FAMILIES OF VETERANS -ESPECIALLY PRISONERS OF WAR.
EVEN LEADING A DELEGATION TO WAR-TORN VIETNAM IN 1970 TO TOUR PRISONS CAMPS
*** Ross Perot ***
“this trip will provide the North Vietnamese with a classic opportunity to prove what they have been saying that the American prisoners are receiving human treatment.”
AFTER THE VIETNAM WAR ENDED, PEROT BECAME CONVINCED THE COMMUNIST VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT SECRETLY HELD HUNDREDS OF AMERICAN PRISONERS OF WAR.
PEROT WAS THE MOVEMENTS MOST VOCAL ADVOCATE.
He became a hero of the military in that sense
THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THIS CONSPIRACY THEORY.
STILL, PEROT LOBBIED PENTAGON COMMANDERS, PUSHED CONGRESS TO HOLD HEARINGS AND PUBLICLY HAMMERED PRESIDENT REAGAN ON THE ISSUE.
He was trying to organize around the issue of missing POWs in Vietnam, and using his own resources, considerable resources, to try to raise that issue
PEROT EVEN IGNORED THE WHITE HOUSE, AND LAUNCHED UNAUTHORIZED, AND POSSIBLY ILLEGAL, BACK CHANNEL NEGOTIATIONS WITH VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS.
THE MOVE INFURIATED REAGAN, WHO SENT VICE PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH TO TELL PEROT TO KNOCK IT OFF.
CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN THE TWO TEXANS -WERE, WELL- HEATED.
There was a tremendous resentment against Bush 41 because he felt Bush as Vice President had not taken him seriously.
FROM THEN ON, THE ANIMOSITY BETWEEN BUSH AND PEROT ONLY GREW.
POLITICAL JOURNALISTS OFTEN JOKED THAT IF TEXAS WASN’T SO BIG, THERE WOULDN’T BE ENOUGH ROOM FOR THE BOTH OF THEM.
IN 1991, WHEN PRESIDENT BUSH LAUNCHED THE GULF WAR, PEROT WAS PROUDLY CRITICAL OF THE MILITARY OFFENSIVE – SAYS JIM SQUIRES, PEROT’S 1992 CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN.
Even though his is a very strong military supporter. He did not like the decision to go into the Gulf
“He was against any war where the people, we shot first and they didn’t. And Besides he couldn’t figure out what they had done to us.
WHEN U-S FORCES EASILY DEFEATED SADDAM HUSSEIN’S ARMY AND PUSHED THE IRAQI MILITARY OUT OF KUWAIT -PRESIDENT BUSH’S POPULARITY SOARED.
HE HAD AN APPROVAL RATING OF 89-PERCENT.
PUNDITS WONDERED IF DEMOCRATS WOULD EVEN RUN A CANDIDATE.
PRIVATELY, PEROT CONTEMPLATED CHALLENGING BUSH FOR THE WHITE HOUSE AS A DEMOCRAT.
FAMILY AND FRIENDS DISMISSED THE IDEA, BUT PEROT PERSISTED.
THEN THE U-S ECONOMY STALLED
***NBC News Clip***
“Unemployment not getting any better, the new numbers are in, they are still at a five year high….”
AND BUSH’S POPULARITY CRATERED
CONSERVATIVE T-V PUNDIT PAT BUCHANAN LAUNCHED AN UNPRECEDENTED CHALLENGE AGAINST BUSH FOR THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION.
***Pat Buchanan Ad***
“Can we afford four more years of broken promises. Read My Lips. Send a Message. Read our lips. Vote Pat Buchanan for president.”
IN THE FALL OF 1991, PEROT WAS INVITED TO THE HARVARD INSTITUTE OF POLITICS TO TALK ABOUT HIS OPPOSITION TO THE GULF WAR.
PEROT’S LAWYER – FORMER REPUBLICAN TEXAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE – TOM LUCE WAS ATTENDING THE INSTITUTE AS A FELLOW. SO WAS JIM SQUIRES.
AFTER THE TALK, PEROT, LUCE AND SQUIRES HAD DINNER NEAR HARVARD AND TALKED ABOUT THE DISMAL STATE OF AMERICAN POLITICS.
“I think the Perot campaign was born in that session. We talked a lot about the coming 92 election.”
“Mr. Perot told us how he was not fond of either Bush and he certainly was not fond of Clinton because he was concerned about his character.”
“He thought we were going to have a campaign where both sides spent tax payer money to attack each other.”
“Try to assassinate the character of the opponent”
SQUIRES DOESN’T REMEMBER WHO FIRST BROUGHT UP THE IDEA OF AN INDEPENDENT THIRD-PARTY RUN.
We kind of egged him on maybe you should do that
BUT HE REMEMBERS -VIVIDLY- HOW PEROT RESPONDED.
He talks with his eyes. He has these wonderful blue eyes that are very expressive. And he sparked on the idea of a third party that night.
ONCE DINNER ENDED, SQUIRES THOUGHT NOTHING MORE OF THE CONVERSATION.
When we left there, there was no indication that he was going to do it.
We didn’t think Perot was serious about it.
WHETHER OR NOT PEROT WAS SERIOUS – THE IDEA CIRCULATED AMONG A VERY SMALL GROUP OF PEOPLE.
SQUIRES MENTIONED IT TO HIS MENTOR –JOHN SEIGENTHALER.
THE LONG TIME JOURNALIST WAS ALSO A FRIEND OF PEROT’S
AND SET IN MOTION THE EVENTS THAT WOULD LEAD TO THE CHARISMATIC TEXAN’S UNHEARD OF THIRD-PARTY CANDIDACY FOR PRESIDENT.
IT STARTED WITH A CALL TO THE KING OF CABLE.
***Larry King Show Intro ***
IN THE WINTER OF 1992, CNN’S LARRY KING RECEIVED A CALL FROM HIS FRIEND – JOURNALIST AND FORMER JOHN F. KENNEDY ADVISOR – JOHN SEIGENTHALER.
BILLIONAIRE ROSS PEROT, HE SAID, WAS MULLING AN INDEPENDENT RUN FOR PRESIDENT.
SEIGENTHALER URGED KING, WHO HAD A HIGHLY RATED PRIME-TIME CABLE T-V SHOW, TO HAVE PEROT AS A GUEST
“It all happened through my show. Ross always admitted during the show.”
A FEW WEEKS LATER ON FEBRUARY 20TH, 1992 JUST AS THE DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN PRIMARIES WERE HEATING UP.
PEROT APPEARED ON CNN TO TALK ABOUT THE STATE OF THE U-S ECONOMY AND THE DYSFUNCTION IN WASHINGTON.
“I asked him. Because he was so political if he intended as a businessman run for president. He wasn’t a member of any particular party and he said no.”
“Then half way though the show I just want to ask you again he said well no.”
At the end of the show. Three minutes to go. I said ok. Mr. Perot any circumstance which you would run for president. And he looked at the camera and said.
*** Ross Perot **
All these folks who are constantly calling and writing. If you feel so strongly about this. Number one I will not run as either democrat or republican. Because I will not sell out to anybody but to the American people. I will sell out to them.
You will run as an independent?
*** Ross Perot ***
“you the people are that serious you register me in fifty states. If you aren’t willing to organize and do that then this is all just talk. Stay with me Larry. I am saying to the ordinary folks No No No. I am not asking to be drafted.”
PEROT VOWED TO SPEND HIS OWN MONEY, AND ASKED WOULD BE SUPPORTERS TO DONATE FIVE DOLLARS, JUST SO THEY WOULD HAVE SKIN IN THE GAME.
I saw Ross Perot at dinner two nights later and kind of as a joke I gave him $5.00. You’re the first person that has done this. I said what do you think, He said nothing will come of this.
THAT WAS CLAY MULFORD, PEROT’S THEN SON-IN-LAW, AND SOON TO BE THE CAMPAIGN’S LEGAL COUNCIL.
They didn’t put out a number on Larry king or anywhere else. But People began looking up how to call Ross Perot. So the office was overwhelmed with calls.
The public reaction was so strong, Perot Systems couldn’t handle it
AMERICA IT SEEMED WANTED THE RELUCTANT BUSINESSMAN TO RUN.
IN RESPONSE, PEROT, SET UP A PHONE BANK IN DALLAS – WITH A DEDICATED ONE-EIGHT-HUNDRED NUMBER.
WITHIN DAYS, MORE THAN A MILLION CALLS OF SUPPORT POURED IN.
WHILE A GRASSROOTS DRAFT PEROT MOVEMENT, WORKED TO GET THE BILLIONAIRE’S NAME ON THE BALLOT IN ALL 50 STATES
What we were going to do, was run the antithesis of a normal presidential campaign.
ROSS PEROT STARTED OFF THE 1992 ELECTION – AS JUST ANOTHER BUSINESSMAN WITH AN OPINION TALKING ON CABLE NEWS.
IN MAY, POLLS SHOWED HIM BEATING INCUMBENT PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH AND HIS DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER- BILL CLINTON.
AMAZINGLY HE DREW SUPPORT AWAY FROM BOTH MEN IN EQUALLY, UNITING DISSATISFIED DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS
PEROT’S RISE IN THE POLLS WAS FUELED BY HIS NEAR DAILY RADIO AND TELEVISION APPEARANCES.
“Look out George Bush, here comes H. Ross Perot
THESE SHOWS ALLOWED ORDINARY AMERICANS TO REGISTER THEIR FRUSTRATION DIRECTLY WITH PEROT
SIMILAR TO SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY.
PEROT WAS ON LARRY KING’S SHOW SO OFTEN, POLITICAL JOURNALISTS JOKINGLY CALLED THE CNN STUDIO -PEROT’S CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS.
WITH EACH APPEARANCE, PEROT PROMOTED HIMSELF AS A REFORMING BUSINESSMAN WHO WOULD BREAK THE DEADLOCK IN WASHINGTON
**** Ross Perot ***
See I am the only guy who talks numbers. I love this. No one else will even talk about it. It’s like a crazy aunt in the basement everyone knows she is there no body talks about it. I am talking about it.
AND WHO WOULD FIGHT FOR EVERY DAY AMERICANS BEING SCREWED BY RUINOUS TRADE DEALS
He was saying the things a big portion of America wanted to hear.
A CROSS BETWEEN YODA – AND A MORE CHARMING MR BURNS –
PEROT CAPTIVATED THE COUNTRY WITH PIE CHARTS, A TINY METAL POINTER AND A MESSAGE OF ECONOMIC NATIONALISM.
*** Ross Perot ***
We have to rebuild our great country. We have to make our country the envy of the world again and I can’t sleep until the words made in the USA once again become the world’s standard
THESE MEDIA APPEARANCES WERE AS ENTERTAINING AS THEY WERE SUBSTANTIVE REMEMBERS FORMER FOX NEWS POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT CARL CAMERON.
It was remarkable. The idea that people would sit there and watch a guy read off a piece of cardboard explaining the national debt or deficit.
IN A TIME BEFORE CAMPAIGN WEBSITES, FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.
PEROT BROKE THROUGH THE POLITICAL NOISE WITH A WITH A CLEAR AND SINGULAR MESSAGE.
***Perot TV Commercial***
The candidate is Ross Perot, the issue the national Debt
IF YOU ARE TOO YOUNG TO REMEMBER PEROT’S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN – ITS HARD – NOW TO UNDERSTAND JUST HOW ENTHRALLED AMERICA WAS WITH HIM.
***Larry King ***
Presidential races are always interesting. He doubled the interest and he was the interest.
PEROT’S TV APPEARANCES WERE PLAYED AND REPLAYED ON BOTH NEWS PROGRAMS AND ON LATE NIGHT COMEDY SHOWS.
I can’t deal with a problem unless I can feel it, touch it, smell it, taste it, and touch it a little more. Laugh.
He was a showman. We didn’t have reality TV then and we certainly didn’t have social media but he was a communicator. Got his message through.
TO PUT IT IN PERSPECTIVE, ON THE NIGHT BILL CLINTON WON THE CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY AND OFFICIALLY NAILED DOWN HIS PARTY’S NOMINATION –
THE ARKANSAS GOVERNOR PLAYED SECOND FIDDLE TO PEROT.
That night on Nightly News, instead of the incumbent president or Bill Clinton being the lead story. The lead story, was the correspondent covering Ross Perot, because he was ahead of both President Bush and the Democratic Challenger in polls in a three-way race.
PEROT MADE AMERICANS FEEL HE WASN’T RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT -BECAUSE HE WANTED TO BE PRESIDENT
BUT BECAUSE AMERICA WAS BROKEN, AND HE ALONE HAD THE GOOD BUSINESS SENSE TO FIX IT.
Perot was not pandering to get votes for Perot. It was all about, here are the issues.
IF CONGRESS AND WASHINGTON LOBBYISTS WERE THE CAUSE OF GOVERNMENT GRIDLOCK
THEN PEROT PROPOSED REPLACING REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY -WITH DIRECT DEMOCRACY.
ALLOWING AMERICANS – FROM THE COMFORT OF THEIR COUCHES – TO VOTE VIA A ONE EIGHT HUNDRED NUMBER ON KEY LEGISLATION BEFORE CONGRESS.
*** Ross Perot ***
They want to program the people and tell them what to think. I want the people to think
NOW THIS IDEA WAS CRAZY UNDERMINED THE AMERICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM, EVERYTHING THE FOUNDING FATHERS BELIEVED IN AND CREATED WITH THE CONSTITUTION.
BUT, LIKE JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING PEROT DID, IT STRUCK A NERVE WITH VOTERS FED UP WITH POLITICS AS USUAL.
*** Ross Perot ***
“The party is over, it is time for the clean-up crew.”
AS PEROT MADE HIS CASE – NIGHTLY — ON T-V.
A GROWING ARMY OF VOLUNTEERS BEGAN TO ORGANIZE ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
MOST – WERE MIDDLE AGED WHITE MEN.
MANY -HAD NEVER PARTICIPATED IN POLITICS BEFORE.
ALL- WERE DEEPLY COMMITTED TO SHAKING UP THE STATUS QUO
It was a very odd campaign in the sense there were people popping up all over the place who wanted to support Perot but there wasn’t really that great of a political structure to accommodate them.
DESPITE HAVING NO LEADER, AN ORGANIC GRASSROOTS – DRAFT PEROT MOVEMENT – SPRUNG INTO ACTION – IN, AN ATTEMPT TO REGISTER PEROT ON THE BALLOT IN ALL FIFTY STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
THIS TYPE OF NATIONAL REGISTRATION DRIVE EFFORT HAD – NEVER BEFORE- BEEN ATTEMPTED IN MODERN AMERICAN POLITICS.
It’s really a rigged system.
THE COMPLEXITY AND VARIETY OF STATE LAWS, ACCORDING TO BILL HILLSMAN, WHO BRIEFLY WORK ON THE PEROT CAMPAIGN, MAKE IT NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES TO REGISTER NATIONWIDE.
The system is set up just to make it easy for Democrats and Republicans.
YOU SEE, DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS ARE AUTOMATICALLY REGISTERED ON ELECTIONS BALLOTS.
INDEPENDENTS ON THE OTHER HAND, FACE A DAUNTING LABYRINTH OF STATE-BASED REQUIREMENTS.
The whole thing is designed not to encourage competition but to reduce competition.
EACH STATE HAS DIFFERENT RULES AND DIFFERENT FILING DEADLINES.
IN SOME, SUPPORTERS AREN’T ALLOWED TO SIGN A PETITION FOR AN INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE IF THEY HAD PREVIOUSLY VOTED IN A DEMOCRATIC OR REPUBLICAN PRIMARY.
IN OTHERS – ONE – JUST ONE INVALID SIGNATURE INVALIDATES ALL OF THE SIGNATURES.
MULFORD WAS TASKED TO BRING ORDER TO THE CHAOTIC LOCAL BALLOT EFFORT.
It took a tremendous amount of work and I had no idea how to do it.
ULTIMATELY, THE GRASSROOTS ARMY, ARMED WITH ONLY TELEPHONE LINES AND FAX MACHINES — SUCCEEDED.
WITH GRIT AND PURE PERSEVERANCE, VOLUNTEERS COLLECTED SIGNATURES FROM MORE THAN FIVE MILLION PEOPLE – AND REGISTERED PEROT ON ALL FIFTY-ONE BALLOTS.
IN COMPARISON, IN 2000, THE GREEN PARTY ONLY MANAGED TO REGISTER ITS CANDIDATE, RALPH NADER, ON 43 STATE BALLOTS.
BY LATE JUNE, PEROT’S LEAD OVER BUSH AND CLINTON WAS UP TO TEN POINTS NATIONALLY AND HE LED IN 49 STATES –
DESPITE THE BILLIONAIRE SPENDING JUST A THIRD OF THE AMOUNT OF MONEY HIS RIVALS HAD.
THE LONG SHOT HAD NOW BECOME THE FRONTRUNNER.
“Perot was always looking for a way out. To not run.”
SURGING IN NATIONAL POLLS ASIDE.
IT WAS ALWAYS A LITTLE UNCLEAR TO MANY AROUND HIM JUST HOW COMMITTED ROSS PEROT WAS TO WINNING THE PRESIDENCY SAYS JIM SQUIRES.
I maybe the only person who will say this to you. Ross Perot never had any intention of to run for president, to be president.
FROM THE START, PEROT NEVER THOUGHT HIS SUPPORTERS WOULD REGISTER HIM IN ALL FIFTY STATES.
IT WAS AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK.
That was his exit strategy from day one
There was no way he had to live up to this promise he made on Larry King, because there was no way he was going to get on all the ballots.
PEROT’S ONLY GOAL, INSISTS SQUIRES, WAS TO CONTROL THE CAMPAIGN CONVERSATION AND TO FORCE THE TWO PARTIES TO FACE THE ECONOMIC REALITIES OF THE DAY.
So he and I had from day one sort of an understanding. This is going nowhere but it is a good thing to do for the country.
This was my agreement. you know you are not going to win, but if some chance you did. I am not going to Washington. He said, don’t worry I am not going either.
SQUIRES SAID – PEROT TRIED TO QUIT THE RACE SEVERAL TIMES -INCLUDING WHEN UNFLATTERING ARTICLES APPEARED – INSINUATING PEROT WAS AN ANTI-SEMITE.
He used to say everything has rules, even mud wrestling has rules, but presidential politics doesn’t.
REGARDLESS OF HOW HE FELT AT THE START OF THE CAMPAIGN, OTHERS SAY, SOME DAYS, PEROT FELT THE PULL OF THE PRESIDENCY.
HE HIRED SOME OF THE MOST RESPECTED NAMES IN AMERICAN POLITICS.
INCLUDING ED ROLLINS – WHO LED RONALD REAGAN’S LANDSLIDE VICTORY EIGHT YEARS EARLIER
AND HAMILTON JEER-DIN WHO HELPED JIMMY CARTER WIN THE PRESIDENCY IN SEVENTY-SIX.
THESE WERE PLAYERS IN THE VERY POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT PEROT HAD LONG CRITICIZED.
THEIR HIRING ALSO SERVED NOTICE TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC -PEROT WAS A SERIOUS CANDIDATE.
There was a conflict there from the very beginning
ED ROLLINS WANTED TO RUN A CONVENTIONAL PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.
PEROT RESISTED – REFUSING TO SPEND MONEY ON ATTACK ADS.
Eddie immediately began to leak to the press that we didn’t know what we were doing. Because we didn’t behave like a normal campaign.
Well if we behaved like a normal campaign, we undercut our position that we weren’t a normal campaign. And we want to run things differently.
PEROT DID HOWEVER, START APPEARING AT TRADITIONAL POLITICAL EVENTS – LIKE NATIONAL CONVENTION OF THE NAACP
*** Ross Perot ****
We are happy to hear your message today, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Ross Perot of Texas…..
DESPITE HIRING SOME OF THE TOP TALENT IN POLITICS, PEROT PROUDLY BOASTED OF IGNORING THEIR ADVICE.
*** Ross Perot ****
I don’t have any speech writers, what you hear from me comes straight from the heart.
MINUTES LATER, PEROT AWKWARDLY REFERRED TO AFRICAN AMERICANS AS “YOU PEOPLE” PROVING WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU – IMPROVISE – A POLITICAL SPEECH.
*** Ross Perot***
“I don’t have to tell you who gets hurt first when this sort of thing happens. You people do. Your people. I know it, you know it.”
SOME IN THE CROWD BEGAN TO YELL, AND BOO.
WHILE THE PRESS QUESTIONED IF PEROT WAS READY FOR THE NATIONAL STAGE,
OR JUST A PRODUCT OF A SAFE TELEVISION MEDIA STRATEGY.
THEN INTERNAL TURMOIL ERUPTED – WITH NEARLY A DOZEN OF PEROT’S TOP STAFF QUITTING OVER THE DIRECTION OR LACK THERE OF THE CAMPAIGN.
We begin with the latest bombshell from the campaign trail. Everybody is talking about Ross Perot.
HOURS LATER, ON JULY 16TH, PEROT QUIT HIS INDEPENDENT BID FOR THE WHITE HOUSE –
HE SAID THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, WITH BILL CLINTON AND AL GORE AT THE HELM, HAD BEEN REVITALIZED.
AND SAID THAT IF HE HAD STAYED IN THE RACE, HE WOULD CAUSE THE ELECTION TO BE THROWN TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
*** Ross Perot ****
“This whole thing was motivated by love of country, not personal. You know, I don’t have any drive to be President of the United States”
THE IMPROBABLE AND CHAOTIC ROLLER COASTER CAMPAIGN – CAME TO AN ABRUPT HALT.
He dropped out of the race when the media started to pin him down. He didn’t like being under that type of media scrutiny.
DESPITE DROPPING OUT, PEROT ENCOURAGED SUPPORTERS TO CONTINUE THE 50 STATE BALLOT EFFORT.
AND PRIVATELY TOLD KEY BACKERS – IF ANYONE THOUGHT HE HAD REALLY QUIT, THEY WOULD BE IN, FOR AN OCTOBER SURPRISE.
PART VII: 76
IN THE DAYS BEFORE A FRUSTRATED ROSS PEROT QUIT THE 1992 CAMPAIGN, HIS PUBLIC IMAGINE HAD TAKEN A BEATING.
HE HAD BEEN ACCUSED OF BEING AN ANTI-SEMITE.
AND A DIFFICULT PERSONALITY BY FORMER CAMPAIGN AIDES.
AS THE ELECTION WORE ON, PEROT GAINED A BEGRUDGING RESPECT FOR HIS DEMOCRATIC RIVALS.
I think Gore being on the Ticket gave him another good reason to quit.
INITIALLY, PEROT SAW LITTLE IN BILL CLINTON THAT HE LIKED.
HE LONG HAD QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ARKANSAS GOVERNOR’S CHARACTER.
BUT PEROT ADMIRED SENATOR AL GORE, CLINTON’S RUNNING MATE.
EVER THE MILITARY MAN, HE RESPECTED GORE’S DIFFICULT DECISION TO ENLIST IN THE ARMY DURING VIETNAM.
AS THE SON OF A U-S SENATOR, GORE COULD HAVE EASILY AVOIDED SERVING IN THE MILITARY.
WHEN CLINTON CHOSE GORE, PEROT TOOK NOTICE – SAYS JIM SQUIRES-
WHO REMEMBERS THE TEXAN BEING IN AWE OF THE YOUNG, DYNAMIC DEMOCRATIC PAIR.
He said to me, you know I think those young fellows might have it together. They might be the right thing for this country.
THE COMBINATION OF A SUCCESSFUL DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION, AND PEROT’S DEPARTURE, SENT BILL CLINTON’S APPROVAL RATINGS THROUGH THE ROOF.
WITH A SIMILAR ECONOMIC MESSAGE – THE DEMOCRATS WERE NOW IN CONTROL OF THE RACE.
BUT WHILE PEROT QUIT THE CAMPAIGN, HE NEVER STOPPED TRYING TO INFLUENCE IT
I had conversations with Ross on a number of occasions.
THAT IS MICKEY KANTOR, CLINTON’S 1992 CAMPAIGN CHAIR.
PEROT PUBLICLY OFFERED TO ENDORSE BUSH OR CLINTON, IF EITHER CANDIDATE WOULD ADOPT HIS BUDGET REDUCTION AND ECONOMIC PLANS.
BOTH CAMPAIGNS SENT HIGH-LEVEL DELEGATIONS TO WOO PEROT – A SIGN OF THE MAVERICK BILLIONAIRE’S POTENTIAL SWAY.
GIVEN HIS PERSONAL CONTEMPT FOR BUSH, AN ENDORSEMENT OF THE REPUBLICAN INCUMBENT WAS NEVER REALLY ON THE TABLE.
IN PEROT’S MIND, BUSH WAS EVERYTHING THAT WAS WRONG WITH WASHINGTON.
BUT THERE WAS A LOT OVERLAP BETWEEN PEROT AND CLINTON – KANTOR EXPLAINS.
Clinton in his rhetoric and what he was talking about in his campaign frankly was almost exactly where Ross was in the budget.
THE CLINTON TEAM, THOUGH, FELT PEROT WENT TOO FAR ON SOCIAL SECURITY – AND TALKS BROKE DOWN DURING THE SUMMER.
Social security is a vital program for millions of Americans we weren’t about to do anything to cut it.
PEROT ALWAYS LEFT OPEN THE POSSIBILITY OF A RETURN, REPEATEDLY SAYING IT WAS UP TO HIS VOLUNTEERS.
SO AT THE SAME TIME THE PEROT CAMP NEGOTIATED WITH ITS RIVALS
THE BILLIONAIRE BUSINESSMAN WAS PLOTTING A COMEBACK.
THEN WITH A SLY GRIN, HE TOLD CBS NEWS, THERE WAS A ONE IN A THOUSAND CHANCE HE WOULD RETURN.
TURNS OUT THAT ONE IN A THOUSAND CHANCE REALLY MEANT HE WAS GETTING BACK RACE.
*** Ross Perot ***
“My decision in July hurt you. I apologize. I thought I was doing the right thing. I made a mistake.”
ROSS PEROT OFFICIALLY RE-ENTERED THE 1992 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN ON OCTOBER FIRST –
JUST FIVE WEEKS, BEFORE VOTERS WERE SET TO CAST THEIR BALLOTS.
*** Ross Perot ***
The volunteers on their own forged ahead. The day we were on the ballot in all 50 states, the volunteers requested that I come back in, because the political parties had not responded to their concerns.
He felt if he kept going he could push the debate further in his direction.
THE RACE PEROT RE-ENTERED – WAS DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT THAN THE ONE HE ABANDONED.
HIS COMMANDING LEAD IN THE POLLS WERE GONE. MANY OF HIS SUPPORTERS WERE ANGRY, OR HAD JUST MOVED ON.
BILL CLINTON WAS NOW THE FRONT RUNNER – AND HE TOO, HAD A LASER LIKE FOCUS ON THE ECONOMY.
“What has George Bush doing about our economic problems. Now four years ago he promised 15 million new jobs by now, and he is over 14 million short.”
EVER THE INNOVATOR, PEROT DEFIED CONVENTIONAL CAMPAIGN LOGIC –
BUYING TIME ON NETWORK T-V TO RUN A SERIES OF 30 MINUTE INFOMERCIALS.
“He realized that was the only way he would have a platform for the types of things he wanted to say.”
***Perot Oct 6 Town Hall***
Tonight, Ross Perot, with plain talk about jobs, debt and the Washington mess. Good evening….
SITTING BEHIND A LARGE DESK, USING A FEW DOZEN CARDBOARD PIE CHARTS AND A POINTER, A SOBER AND SERIOUS PEROT TALKED DIRECTLY TO VOTERS
AND CRITICIZED BOTH DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS FOR SHORT-SIDED ECONOMIC POLICIES.
*** Ross Perot ***
“I’ll tell you one of the reasons we’ve fallen off the edge of the cliff, we got into trickle- down economics and it didn’t trickle.”
POLITICAL PUNDITS PREDICTED VOTERS WOULD BE BORED BY THE SIMPLISTIC PRESENTATION AND TUNE OUT PEROT’S MESSAGE.
THEY COULDN’T HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG –
SOME 17-MILLION PEOPLE TUNED IN TO WATCH THE FIRST ONE.
THAT’S MORE VIEWERS THAN THE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYOFF GAME THAT CAME AFTER IT.
FOR THE NEXT MONTH, AS HIS RATINGS SOARED, PEROT PRE-EMPTED HIT NETWORK SITCOMS LIKE CBS’S MAJOR DAD
EDUCATING AND ENTERTAINING AMERICANS WITH HIS FOLKSY HOME SPUN ECONOMIC DISCUSSIONS.
**** Ross Perot ***
“since we are dealing with voodoo economics a great young lady from Louisiana sent me this voodoo stick and I will use it as my pointer tonight. And certainly, it is appropriate because as you and I know we are in deep voodoo.
PEROT HAD TALKED HIS WAY BACK INTO THE POLITICAL CONVERSATION -AND THE RACE.
AND EVEN MANAGED TO SCORE AN INVITATION TO THE THREE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES.
ONE OF THE MOST FASCINATING AND I THINK ILLUMINATING STORIES I WAS TOLD ABOUT ROSS PEROT CAME FROM MICKEY KANTOR.
AT THE TIME OF THE FIRST DEBATE CLINTON WAS LEADING IN THE POLLS.
BUT THE ELECTION WAS VERY MUCH UP IN THE AIR BECAUSE NO ONE KNEW -WHAT, IF ANY – IMPACT PEROT WOULD HAVE ON THE VOTE.
ON THE EVENING OF THE FIRST DEBATE, KANTOR WAS SITTING WITH THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE IN THEIR GREEN ROOM
WHEN THERE WAS A KNOCK ON THE DOOR.
IT WAS ROSS PEROT
“He said, Mickey can I talk to Bill.”
I WILL LET KANTOR TELL THE REST OF THE STORY
I said Ross, he is getting ready now, what do you want to talk about, well I need some information. And I said I give it to you.
He said look where do I walk in on this stage? And I said Ross you didn’t do a walk through? He said no. I don’t know where to walk in. I don’t know when I am suppose to go on. Who goes first. And So of course I briefed him
And told him what had been planned.
What was interesting about that to me that was both charming and I thought impressive.
“Ross Perot was there to talk about the issues he cared about. He didn’t care about the staging. He didn’t care about Make up. He didn’t care about lighting. He cared about what was said.”
PEROT WON THAT FIRST DEBATE HANDS DOWN –
CONTROLLING THE ENTIRE NARRATIVE WITH HIS FOLKSY AND STRAIGHT FORWARD IDEAS.
HE CHANNELED MANY AMERICANS’ SENSE OF ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY IN A WAY THAT NEITHER BUSH OR CLINTON COULD.
He was terrific because he wasn’t uptight. He just said what he believed and he said it in an interesting and provocative way. And I think people liked him.
AT THE SECOND DEBATE, PEROT PICKED UP HIS ECONOMIC MESSAGE – RIGHT WHERE HE LEFT OFF.
RAILING AGAINST NAFTA AND ARGUING IT WAS TIME TO STOP SENDING JOBS OVERSEAS
*** Ross Perot ***
Pay a dollar an hour for your labor. Have no health care. That’s the most expensive single element in making a car. Have no environmental controls, no pollution controls and no retirement. And you don’t care about anything but making money. There will be a giant sucking sound going south.
PRESIDENT BUSH ON THE OTHER HAND –
TRAILING CLINTON IN THE POLLS AND GETTING BEAT UP BY BOTH HIS RIVALS ON THE ECONOMY – CAME INTO THE DEBATE INTENT ON GOING ON THE OFFENSIVE.
George Bush had come into the debate prepared to attack Clinton’s character. That was his game plan
THAT WAS CAROL SIMPSON- FORMER ABC NEWS ANCHOR AND THE MODERATOR OF THE SECOND DEBATE IN RICHMOND.
SHE REMEMBERS THE AUDIENCE, DEMANDING AN END TO THE MUDSLINGING.
“The amount of time the candidates have spent in this campaign trashing their opponents’ character and their programs is depressingly large. Why can’t your discussions and proposals reflect the genuine complexity and difficulty of this issues?
“It was as if someone had stuck a pin in George H.W. Bush he just deflated when he heard that.”
***Carol Simpson** *
“He was off his game for the rest of the night.”
THE DEBATE CONVERSATION LARGELY STAYED ON ECONOMIC ISSUES.
BUT IT ALSO TURNED PERSONAL.
There was the pivotal moment during the debate when a young black woman was asking if the candidates if they felt the recession the same way ordinary people were.
“Bill Clinton jump off his stool”
“He walked straight up to her in the audience and did one of I feel your pain kind of things.”
***Bill Clinton ***
“You know people who’ve lost their jobs and lost their homes?”
Bill Clinton has this thing, this charisma You feel you really have his attention
He won the debate at that moment because everybody said he gets it. He knows what we are going through and George bush does not.”
PEROT HAD SET THE AGENDA –
ONLY TO HAVE CLINTON TAKE IT AND PERSONALIZE IT.
VOTERS WANTED, IT TURNED OUT,
NOT ONLY A SOMEONE WHO COULD FIX THE NATION’S ECONOMIC PROBLEMS
BUT ALSO, SOMEONE WHO COULD EMPATHIZE WITH THEM
*** Ross Perot ***
“We begin tonight with proof positive this has been one of the strangest campaigns in modern times.”
IN THE FINAL DAYS OF THE 1992 ELECTION FOLLOWING A MONTH OF THREE SUCCESSFUL DEBATES AND RISING POLL NUMBERS.
THE ROLLER COASTER RIDE THAT WAS THE PEROT CAMPAIGN ONCE AGAIN ABRUPTLY JUMPED OFF THE RAILS.
IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CBS’S 60 MINUTES – PEROT PLUNGED HEAD FIRST INTO A DISTRACTING AND NEEDLESS POLITICAL CONTROVERSY – SPINNING A STORY ABOUT WHY HE REALLY QUIT THE RACE THAT SUMMER
PEROT CLAIMED ON NATIONAL T-V, REPUBLICAN OPERATIVES WERE PLOTTING TO RUIN HIS DAUGHTER CAROLYN’S WEDDING, BY SPREADING RUMORS SHE WAS A LESBIAN.
AND THAT SOMEONE HAD CALLED TO WARN HIM.
*** Ross Perot ***
“He had seen a doctored photograph that they were going to give the tabloids to smear my daughter before her wedding and that they were going to disrupt the wedding in the church.
“It was just conspiracy 101. It didn’t make any sense.”
PEROT OFFERED NO PROOF, ONLY AN EVER-SHIFTING ASSORTMENT OF DETAILS.
“He looked like the kook everyone wanted him to be and he was not”
THE BUSH WHITE HOUSE HAPPILY SEIZED ON THE STORY AND PAINTED PEROT AS A LOONEY, A CRAZY, A CONSPIRACY THEORIST
*** Ross Perot ***
Which led the president’s spokesman to say Mr. Perot is paranoid with crazy ideas
WITH THE INTERVIEW, PEROT ONCE AGAIN, WENT FROM BEING A FOLKSY ADVOCATE FOR THE DISGRUNTLED VOTER.
TO AN ERRATIC AND UNPREDICTABLE OUTSIDER WHO LEFT A TRAIL OF CHAOS IN HIS WAKE.
I think the whole tragic comedy of getting out of the race and getting back into the race, the conspiracy theories that damaged his credibility.
*** Pasty Cline***
We Crazy…Crazy for feeling so lonely.
AS THE VOTES WERE BEING TALLIED ON ELECTION NIGHT –
ROSS PEROT HOSTED A VICTORY PARTY AND DANCED TO PATSY CLINE’S – CRAZY.
THE TEXAS BILLIONAIRE DIDN’T WIN THE ELECTION
***CNN 1992 Call***
“Governor Clinton is now president elect Bill Clinton”
THE NIGHT INSTEAD, BELONGED TO THE MAN FROM HOPE, ARKANSAS.
BILL CLINTON CRUSHED HIS OPPONENTS– WINNING 370 ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES.
AND DISLODGED PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.
BUT ROSS PEROT RECEIVED NEARLY 20 MILLION VOTES
ONE OF THE BEST SHOWINGS EVER FOR A THIRD-PARTY CANDIDATE.
But what about Ross Perot the use of Television and private money has it changed the political landscape for the long haul. I think forever Tom. We have a candidate who basically avoided the press. Avoided large crowds. Avoided any type of scrutiny any give and take and when directly on television
THE TEXAS BILLIONAIRE’S IMPACT ON THE 1992 ELECTION HAS ALWAYS BEEN PASSIONATELY DEBATED
“Republicans like to say Perot was a spoiler.”
Many people, Bush included, feel that really hurt his re-election.
In fact, it was pretty much even in terms of where Perot’s votes came from both parties.
WHAT EVER THE IMPACT IN 1992, THE LASTING LEGACY OF THE PEROT PHENOMENON IS STILL FELT TODAY.
We didn’t reform politics, but his campaign became the basis for the Republican contract of America.
NEWT GINGRICH’S LEGISLATIVE MANIFESTO WAS MODELED ON ROSS PEROT’S ECONOMIC AGENDA.
THE THEN LITTLE-KNOWN GEORGIA CONGRESSMAN ACTIVELY COURTED PEROT VOTERS IN 1994.
AND REPUBLICANS SWEPT TO POWER THAT SAME YEAR -TAKING CONTROL OF BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1952.
JUST TWO YEARS AFTER BACKING THE INDEPENDENT BUSINESSMAN, PEROT’S SUPPORTERS OVERWHELMINGLY VOTED FOR REPUBLICANS.
AND HAVE STAYED WITH THE GOP
FOR A LARGE PART OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY – PEROT’S CONCERNS ARE THEIR CONCERNS.
HE RAILED AGAINST FREE TRADE.
MADE BALANCING THE FEDERAL BUDGET A KITCHEN TABLE CONVERSATION
AND SOWED ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT DISTRUST IN GOVERNMENT
THESE ARE ALL HALLMARKS OF THE MODERN REPUBLICAN PARTY -WHICH HAD FOR AGES BEEN THE PARTY OF BUSINESS
BUT PEROT WAS JUST ONE IN A LONG LINE OF PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS WHO PUSHED THESE IDEAS
GEORGE WALLACE, RICHARD NIXON, RONALD REAGAN, PAT BUCHANAN AND DONALD TRUMP ALL EMBRACED THESE THEMES AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER.
NO, WHAT PEROT BROUGHT TO AMERICAN POLITICS WAS THAT UNIQUE, EVEN REVOLUTIONARY: WAS HIS UNPREDICTABLE NATURE
I think what he brought to it was a sense there was in addition to the two parties, there could be a third way.
BEFORE AND AFTER HIM,
REALLY UP UNTIL DONALD TRUMP
PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS, EVEN ONES WITH ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT VIEWS WERE FAIRLY PREDICTABLE.
THEY WERE PART OF A PARTY, THEY RAISED MONEY FROM DONORS, THEY HELD PUBLIC OFFICE.
THEY ANSWERED TO AN ESTABLISHMENT.
PEROT PROVED THAT IF YOU HAD THE MONEY, THE RESOURCES AND THE MEDIA PLATFORM
YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO BE PREDICTABLE.
MORE IMPORTANTLY THERE WAS BARELY ANY POLITICAL CONSEQUENCE TO BEING UNPREDICTABLE
TO BEING ERRATIC
IF YOU HAD YOUR OWN MONEY – AND SOMETHING TO SAY. THERE WAS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU IN MODERN AMERICAN POLITICS.
YOU COULD GO ON TV, OR NOW SOCIAL MEDIA, AND JUST BYPASS THE PARTY AND THE MEDIA .
As well intentioned as we he was, and as decent a human being as he was, all of the impact he had on the system was not all good.
PEROT FAILED TO TRANSLATE THIS POWER INTO THE PRESIDENCY.
AMERICA IN 1992 JUST WASN’T READY -YET- FOR AN ECCENTRIC AND TEMPERAMENTAL C-E-O PRESIDENT.
“He was the foreshadowing of what was to come with Donald Trump.”
TRUMP, LIKE PEROT ROSE TO PROMINENCE BY BEING UNPREDICTABLE,
BY NOT WORRYING ABOUT CONVENTIONAL POLITICAL NORMS.
WITH HIS PERSONAL FORTUNE AND TWITTER ACCOUNT – TRUMP RODE ROUGH SHOD OVER HIS GOP OPPONENTS, THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND NARROWLY BEAT HILLARY CLINTON IN 2016
TRUMP SUCCEEDED WHERE PEROT FAILED.
AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF BEING UNPREDICTABLE ARE ON FULL DISPLAY TODAY.