tv The Contenders Ross Perot CSPAN September 7, 2020 1:37am-3:40am EDT
we'll talk about the political makeup of each state with laura leslie. eremy pellser. washington bureau chief craig gilbert. julian ralph and arizona capital times political reporter dylan rosenblatt. watch at 7:00 eastern as we discuss battleground states and oin in with facebook comments, phone calls, texts and tweets. >> going into debt an additional $1 billion every working day in the year.
the facts are we have to fixette. there is an extra trest yell doing it to us i guess. someone somewhere has to take responsibility for this. >> that was ross perot during the second of three presidential debates talking about one of his favorite issues the u.s. debt. in that election, the texas businessman won 19% of the popular vote. he ran a second presidential campaign in 1996 and tonight he is our focus on the contenders. gooned good night and thanks for being with us. we're doing this series as a way to look at american history through the lens of presidential candidates who failed in their quest for the white house but have an outside impact on american history. ss perot is our final of 14 people that we're proniling
this series. tonight joining us is doug brinkley. he is not politics as usual. he is less interested in money and politics than doing right for our country. i believe this comes out of his naval academy background. looking for p.o.w.'s and m.i.a.'s during vietnam and constantly supporting our special force bus the clip you just ran tells you in 1992, it was the central issue of our upcoming presidential election,
i think we're old enough to take bad news. we have a $3 trillion debt by 1988. funded by foreign nations at this point. the greatest nation in the history of man doesn't have the will to pass a national budget. we continue to pass continuing resolutions. that put us ever deeper into debt and we have given up trying to live within our means as a country. there is no correlation between taxes paid in and money spent. we are losing in international business competition. some of our banks have problems. savings and loans have serious problems. wall street is bouncing all over the place. our personal spending habits of our people are as bleak as our federal spending habits. >> 24 years ago except for upping the numbers and that
americans are now saving because of the 2008 crisis, it could be talked about in the same words today. >> we wonder why ross perot could give that speech. he was a genius. a speech in 1984 to general motors and he got on the cover of fortune magazine. really the importance of data collection. companies even at one point invested in apple with steve jobs at one point.
he wanted it to be the country of his great childhood. that can do spirit with just -- it fills him up and the fact that we were losing in the 1980's to japan a lot ont and of course today our problems competeing with china. the fact that so many people in congress seem to be bought and paid for. the lobbying in washington and getting rid of lobbyists and corrupt politicians was at the core of the pro message. >> in 1993, this book was published, perot and his people, distrusting the balance of power. karen is joining us for the rest of her program in texas. she is in texas tonight. you knew him as a texas
boundless opportunities. the sky was the limit. he really sort of played into what was the texas mythology with texas politicians who were larger than life, very successful businessman who made a fortune here. they were risk takers, they were not afraid to fail. that was the sort of spirit he had at that i think got him into this thing. >> noting that at the naval academy, he was president of his class the last couple of years. early on he showed leadership traits have the ability to galvanize people under his leadership. that we would see later in his life. just a quick overview of his business career, let's take a look -- he went into business -- he left the navy after four years and went into business and to ibm as a salesman where he became the top salesman for the
company. that was in 1957. in 1962 he founded his own company which was electronic data systems. he then sold it to general motors for $2.4 billion and stayed on the board. in 1988 he founded perot systems. in 2009 he sold that company to dell computers for $3.9 billion. the source of his great wealth. he and his family are known as philanthropists. can you talk about that side of him and his family? >> they have given a fortune to all sorts of charities here in dallas. ross perot himself has made many anonymous contributions in small ways. he has helped individuals without people even knowing about it. there is a hospital here named for margot perot, his wife. he has given a lot of money to the boy scouts. it is amazing their
philanthropy. >> you mentioned earlier his involvement with the vietnam pows. can you tell us a little more what you know about his interest and that issue? how they created a divide between him and later president. >> we mentioned he graduated from the naval academy in annapolis as the president. that is a big deal. he was the sort of person in the navy who believe you are only as good as the guy left behind. he was a great leader. during those years when he was in the navy, he had sometimes had to go and get soldiers that were on leave or got drunk in a foreign town and got them back on the ship. it became sort of a hallmark -- you'd never leave anybody behind. he was very upset during the vietnam war that the united states -- we did not push the pow mia issue in that.
-- enough. ross perot stepped into the fray and it did very dramatically went to back channel negotiations with vietnam to say that we want every one of our guys back. he has become really a hero of the u.s. military veterans for his constant concern about our soldiers and our troops. it recently, i get a top for -- i gave a talk for veterans day in dallas. it was a good group called daughters of world war ii. there were hundreds of world war ii veterans there. i got to talk to ross perot at dinner one night. one of the amazing stories he told me was that recently when our seals team killed osama bin laden, they thought so much of him, our special forces they shipped him a staff. a walking cane of bin laden. he went to fort pierce, florida
to the seal museum -- which people should definitely go visit if you are in town on holiday. i think our navy seals should be "time" people of the year. perot had a stick their with all the seals in attendance, of bin laden. that was just a tribute to how conscientious he is about getting jobs, performance people and his companies, helping veterans whenever he can, particularly the special forces which he thinks represents the best of the best of the american spirit. >> we visited his boyhood home in texarkana. we will show you that. as we are looking at that, we want carolyn barta to talk about his interest with texas governors. >> he was appointed to a couple of task forces, one by former governor bill clements.
another one by former governor mark white. clements was a republican, white succeeded him as a democrat. they both asked ross perot to serve. one was on education reform. i think it just points out how ross perot was always one to speak his mind. he was never afraid to say what he thought. he thought that in the public schools there should be special classes for talented kids. the brightest kids should go to better classes. some of the parents -- texas parents thought that is elitism. maybe we do not want that in our public schools. ross perot very sarcastically said, ok. let's put all the five girls on -- fat girls on the drill team.
let's have everybody be the quarterback. it was just sort of an example of how he always spoke his mind. he was never reluctant to take on the top if he was asked to do a job like that for a couple of governors that showed the democrats and republicans both liked him. for years his name had been mentioned as a potential candidates for something in texas because he was a leader. he was also in the tradition of old-time texas politicians. people like -- going back to sam houston in the republic of texas. that kind of charismatic leader. speaker sam rayburn, lbj, governor john connally, governor clements who was one to speak his mind, governor ann richards who was then a class by herself as well. he was so much like some of these older texans who would
just tell it like it is. they did not mind doing the hard work. if he thought it would help the state or the country, he did not mind doing the hard work to do it. >> let me chime in at that point. one more bit of the perot biography. we want to put this on the screen before we get to his campaign in 1992. a number of eds workers were held hostage. ross perot was personally involved in the rescue of those, something that was later captured in a book. "on wings of eagles." it became a national best seller and later a movie on television. can you talk about how he did this effectively? >> this is an amazing story. in 1979, jimmy carter was president. you had the beginnings of an iranian revolution.
two of his workers for his company for electronic data systems had been held captive. he wanted them sprung free. he went and hired former special forces people to go in and find a way to get that list. -- them loose. he ended up -- they ended up using a rally to spring not just his two employees, but about 10,000 political prisoners got released. they had a rendezvous and they got a very dangerous trip. cloak and dagger type of story. they were eventually able to smuggle out through turkey. this was a highly successful extraction maneuver of getting in there and getting his guys back. he gets back to about the pows and mias. ross perot works and -- he
believes in loyalty first and foremost. if you work for him in your loyal to him and his company, whatever he is up to, he will do anything for you. if you listen to people that know him, that is the number one trade. personal loyalty to people he believes in. >> we have a great photograph. it is of him and richard crenna who played him from the movie. it was shown nationally on network television. it is 1992, set the stage about the reelection of george h. w. bush at how the public was feeling about him. >> remember, he had quite an -- george herbert walker bush had quite of impressive record of foreign affairs. he oversaw the berlin wall coming down, the breakup of the soviet union, the head of the cold war. in 1991, the gulf war which most
people thought was a great success of ousting saddam hussein from kuwait. but the economy was stagnant. by 1992, pat buchanan was going after president bush as having a silver spoon in his mouth and was an elite out of touch -- there was a populist revolt within the republican party. also, you had another resurgence of jerry
brown coming in. bill clinton gets the nomination. you have the new democrat bill clinton and george herbert walker bush. suddenly ross perot goes on cnn, larry king, and says i will run as an independent if i can be on the ballot in all 50 states. if i am drafted. i am not going to go out there and run the typical campaign. people want my ideas, the ones we talked debt the outset here, particularly balancing the budget and stopping of
outsourcing of jobs. he was opposed to the war in iraq because he thought it was going to be a mistake. special forces should have gone in and killed saddam hussein. he watched his amazing third- party run and started soaring in the polls and became the darling of the summer of 1992. we will pick up the rest of the story in a little bit. >>
let's show that larry king live interview where ross perot announces his willingness to run. >> let's go down to grassroots america were the people are hurting. people are saying, why are we in this mess? first of all, look in the mirror. we are the owners of this country. we do not act like the owners. we act like white rabbits to get programmers from messages coming out of washington. we own this place. >> is there any scenario in which she would run? did you give me a scenario where you would say, ok.
i am in. >> if number one, i do not want to. >> i know that. >> if you are that serious, you the people are that serious, you register me in 50 states. if you are not willing to organize and do that, then this is all just talk. i am saying to ordinary folks, if you are dead serious i want to see some sweat. i want you in the ring. >> let me ask you about how much of a surprise that announcement was by the time it was made in february of 1992. >> i guess it surprised most people. the truth of the matter is, he had been out on the -- making speeches for, you know, several years. in particularly, leading up to the larry king live interview,
he had in fact just a couple of weeks before that, he was in tennessee to speak to a business group. he was interviewed from a reporter there. he told him virtually the same thing. he said if he saw some skin in the game. if people would get in the ring and get him on the ballot, he but think about doing it. nothing much came of that. it was published. nothing much came of it. ross perot was talking to a man in tennessee and another one in florida who were activists in trying to draft him to run. john j. hooker in tennessee, a flamboyant businessman kept calling in and talking to him trying to get him to run. it got to the point where they started talking about, where should i announce? the considered conventional sources like "the new york
times," "l.a. times," "wall street journal." he liked larry king live. throughout the campaign, he liked going on talk shows where he could talk and get his message out. as i was told the story, he had -- john seigenthaler of the tennessean, the editor publisher there formally call larry king live. i am not sure whether he set it up or just told them to ask the question. ross perot said he was going on larry king live to talk about the economy. he made an impulsive statement. he never thought it would go anywhere. the truth of the matter is he had been thinking about this for quite a long time. even three months before, he made a speech in tampa to a group called "throw the hypocritical rascals out." a man down there was trying to
do a draft campaign. there were signs "draft perot." 2000 people listening to him speak down there. he was curious about it. how do you get on 50 ballots? in fact, he asked some of his staff people to do some research to see how you get on the ballot. even mulling it over in his head for a good while, it was a surprise to most of the country. i think he had been doing it for a good while. >> but his challenge to his supporters to get him on the ballot became the subject of carolyn barta's book that she contends is all about the people who followed ross perot and how they were galvanized to move outside of the conventional two party system in support of issues. and this figure leading those issues. we will talk a lot more about that as the program continues. these are back-to-back clips that give you a sense of flavor.
we mentioned that ross perot was very critical of the george bush's gulf war. we will hear from that in an interview he gave to c-span in 1992. immediately after that, also in the spring of 1992, you will hear a clip from a very well- known texas journalist molly ivans who has now passed. -- molly ivins, who is now past. she is very well known in texas politics. she was asked to talk about this texas politician she knew so well. >> they should understand why we are going to war. let's take the example you gave me. it was four months before the white house could figure out why we were doing it. one time it was jobs in the next time it was oil. finally they got it together and it was we had to get rid of nuclear systems and hussain. guess what we have still got? we did not accomplish any objectives. if i knock on your door and say
i would like to borrow your son for the middle east so that this guy can have his throne back, you would probably hit me right in the mouth. >> i was writing about that format they had during the -- that's stupid tax reform idea that they had during the reagan years. i was talking about why it was a bad idea. if you make more than $17,000 a year, you are now in the same tax bracket as h.r. perot. i then added, comma, who makes more than $1 million a year. i made the fatal journalistic
error, i did not check. the next day the guys at our business desk in dallas laughing and saying, ross perot makes $1 million a day. [laughter] then a phone rang and there was an operator saying ross perot calling collect for molly ivans. [laughter] it really is funny. i like the guy. i am sure he is politically incorrect to an extent it would make people's teeth hurt around here. i do like ross perot. he is a hard guy to dislike. there is a lot to like their.
the downside is that basically guys who have made a lot of money and business have a hard time working in a system of checks and balances. the other down side is that the man is slightly paranoid, which is like being slightly pregnant. >> our guest here in washington d.c. is douglas brinkley, presidential historian. and in dallas, carolyn barta. longtime texas journalist who wrote a book about the perot campaign. let's begin your telephone calls starting what ralph watching us in chicago. >> thank you. he missed his chance by not calling for a roadmap to peace on drugs as successful contenders grant used medical
cocaine and jfk used speed medically. washington, jefferson, jackson, and lincoln used medical marijuana. each of our last three successful contenders used both grass and coke medically as well as recreationally. thank you. >> we are really getting at is the so-called war on drugs which became a popular phrase in 1980s in the united states. the problem was all of these urban centers -- whole generations of kids getting addicted to different types of narcotics. his whole life he has been a champion of education. working for public schools in particular, there were public schools where drug gangs were taking over. you could not go into them including in dallas which was a very rough city, people forget,
in the 1980's and 1990's. ross perot took a hard line on cracking down on drugs. we had the crack epidemic that starts hitting the united states after that. it was tough on that issue. if you are somebody who is a libertarian and believes that drugs should be legal in the united states, ross perot would not be on your side. >> matt is watching us in plano, texas. good evening. >> i am very glad you are having this discussion. i want to make a comment and a question. he had a profound impact. here in plano, he ended up moving his headquarters here. because of that, i believe dr. pepper and a few other corporations moved here as well. later on he ended up founding perot systems here as well. he has had a huge impact where i live. i thank him for that. my question is about his choice
of stockdale -- p for vice president. how did that come about? he did not look too good in the v.p. debate. it was a hindrance. i am not sure how many votes that cost him, but it did not make him look good. what was the thinking and a decision behind selecting james stockdale as a candidate? >> in 1992 he chose stockdale. 1996, pate choate, an economist. >> he is one of the greatest americans who ever lived. he is one of the most decorated naval officers in u.s. history. of course, he had been a pow in world war -- in the vietnam war and organized a -- how to have pow resistance. he won something like 26 medals, numerous silver stars, medal of honor winner.
he later became president of a naval war college. we are dealing with a very serious person. ross perot admired him. so lavishly. he thought this was the type of person we needed in government. he chose him as his vice president which is an interesting choice. what people forget in 1992, ross perot did well in the debates. he clearly won the first debate against clinton and bush. some people would say he won all three. that is how he got to 19%. in three debates, he was at 8%. post debates he got up to 19%. stockdale struggled. he only had about one week to prepare. he got out of the gate wrong by making a comment like, who am i? other people had not heard of him before. he actually got a lot of applause when he did the debate
but the media want to count on -- went to town on him. he really was not ready for it -- for that media frenzy you have to expect. it made some people question whether ross perot could be president because some people did not think stockdale had the political skills to be president. on the other hand, they do not come any better than admiral stockdale. i hate that we remember his fumbling of a debate question had not remember what an extraordinary -- the service of the admiral is almost unparalleled. >> spring of 1992 progresses into summer and people who are enthusiastic about ross perot began the work of meeting his challenge in getting his name on the ballot in all 50 states. would you describe to our audience ballot access in this country as it existed in 1992 and how big a task they faced.
>> it was a huge task. in order to get on the ballot in any state, you have to meet the laws of the state. if it is a petition you have to get 100,000 and on a petition or you pay $1,000 -- the range of requirements for getting on a petition is just extraordinarily diverse. in most cases it is very hard because you have to collect all of these petition names. sometimes you have a very narrow window in which to do it in. what happened after larry king live, people started calling the ross perot headquarters in saying they wanted to get in the ring with him. they wanted to do what ever they could do to make him run.
they set up a phone bank there at his headquarters in dallas and volunteers came in and manage the phone bank. they were having people call from all over the country. they set up this sophisticated phone bank where somebody would call in the and if they were from a certain state, would they want to work on the petition drive, did they want to volunteer? did they want to know when ross perot would be next on tv? it would go to -- to answer the person's question. what then the ross perot organization had to do -- perot called an six people from his company and asked them to start figuring out how to do this. how do we get on the ballot in 50 states and start working with people who are volunteering to find out what the law is an
estate and to start working to do it. it was an enormous task. once you get on the ballot and as you reach a certain threshold, you establish a ballot position for the future. ross perot established a ballot access position in 1992, 1996, and even -- he established in 1996 so pat buchanan who ran on the reform party ticket in 2000 had the ballot access and all of the states. initially it is almost impossible. like i said, he never feared doing the impossible. he got his team to work. he got leaders in every state to handle what was needed in that state.
>> as the spring moves into summer, ross perot was reaching 39% of public approval ratings. the two parties were really beginning to take this man quite seriously. bill clinton moving to work his nomination of a new democrat and the incumbent president george bush probably wondering what was happening with this challenge from ross perot. two texans going against each other. can you tell us more about the relationship? >> first off, bush 41 is really a houston figure. it is about international companies at the oil industry. ross perot is working with ibm and with his own data services company. there are different texas industries and a different geography. they got into a terrible feud over the pow and mia issues.
he really accused bush and the cia and general of being part of a drug trade and southeast asia. they were actually doing slush fund monies by selling heroin and other opiates. >> we should interject, george bush was head of the cia. >> exactly. became pretty nasty. there is no love lost between george herbert walker bush and ross perot. that is politics. the bigger question in 1992 as we are talking about this, which just heard about this populist campaign. he put somewhere around $12 million or $30 million of his own money into the game. he was also able to buy tv time. half an hour television commercials. one half an hour infomercial but garnered about 10.5 million viewers.
he was following no real rules. george herbert walker bush had been a head of the republican party and clinton was the darling of the democrat party ross perot was a vital center and trying to champion the middle-class everyday american people purses and special interests. he is the original anti-money in washington guy. that is also an issue we are talking. he saw that was going to be a tumor for us. -- doomo for us. >> let's take our next call from indianapolis. >> how are you doing? >> do you have a question for us. >> on ross perot and bill clinton try to get to neck-to- neck with lyndon johnson and roosevelt, do you think we need to go back and see what we can
do about jobs and everything? talking about the republicans and everything. when the republican side with george bush in the white house, you cannot put the problem on barack obama. we have to come together and make it together for the people. give the people what they want in the country things are going bad. >> jerry reflecting the comments about playing to the middle-class of america. i will move on to darcel from north carolina. >> i was one who signed up for ross perot. i can say i know i was responsible for more than 20 of my friends who i convinced not to vote democratically to vote for ross perot. >> let me ask you, looking back with the hindsight of 20 years, how do you feel about the whole effort for mr. perot? >> first of all, i really
appreciate that he went outside of the box. one of his most important speeches was "chicken and chips." you have to bring that tape out. one knew nothing about chicken and the other was computer chips. i thought that was one of the most laughable moment. both president bush and president clinton had no idea what was going on. they looked sort of an dumfounded. i was very proud that my sorority sister was the head of that. she moderated that debate. i was somewhat concerned about his daughter. i hope you guys mentioned something about his daughter was supposed to be assassinated. they were going to take him off -- he was going to leave the campaign. that was a curiosity as well.
i'd was not really quite sure his feelings about race. i felt comfortable. he had a very large turnout in flint, michigan at the hyatt regency. there were all kinds of uaw people there. they were very excited about this man. he seemed to be very sincere. when he was telling somebody who volunteers you need to put some skin in the game, he will not put all of his money he yard and see it go for naught. i think he was very responsible for any other third candidates party to be involved. >> let me jump at that point. thank you so much. it was interesting. i am sure we will hear from other people involved in the campaign. i want you to answer one aspect of her question, that is ross perot's views on race.
>> on race? >> yes, that is what she asked about. >> are you talking about -- oh, on race. he made a speech at the naacp in the course of the campaign. this was shortly before he got out. things had not been going well in the campaign. the press was determined to put him through a primary because he had not been through one. there had been a lot of negative stories about being conspiratorial. he investigated people. looking into his business and everything. his family. anyway, things were not going well. he did not like the way the
campaign was going at that point. he had agreed to go make a speech at the naacp. in the course of the speech, there was a phrase of something like, "you and your people." he used the phrase "you and your people." for what ever reason after it was over with, people interpreted it to be racist that he was making some kind of racist statement. it really devastated him because he had this image of himself as a great humanitarian who was very tolerant -- racially tolerant and had no animosity or racial prejudices. he came off sounding like a racist. not long after that, he did get out. >> we will pick up the story. we've mentioned by summer he is at 39% in the polls.
people working on ballot access had been successful and about half of the states. then july 16, 1992, an announcement from ross perot about his campaign. then just two and a half months later, a second announcement. we will watch a little bit of both. >> we have set among ourselves publicly that we must win in november. we must win a majority of the electorial votes. if we cannot win in november, the election will be decided in the house of representatives. since the house of representatives is made up primarily of democrats and republicans, our chances of winning would be pretty slim. now that the democratic party has revitalized itself, i have concluded we cannot win in november. the election will be decided in the house of representatives.
the house of representatives is not pick the president until january. the new president will be -- will be unable to use the months of november and december to assemble the new government. i believe it would be disruptive for us to continue our program since this would obviously put it in the house of representatives and be disruptive to the country. therefore, i will not become a candidate. >> the volunteers know that this is a critical time in our nation's history. with their political party has addressed the concerns that affect the american people. they have asked me to run this campaign on the issues and to assure the problems that the american people are concerned with will be dealt with until the election is over. i know i heard many of the volunteers who worked so hard in the spring and summer when i stepped aside in july.
i thought it was the right thing to do. i thought that both political parties would address the problems that face the nation. we gave them a chance. they did not do it. the volunteers on their own forged ahead and put me on the ballot in the final 26 states. the day we were on the ballot in all 50 states, the volunteers requested i come back in because the political parties had not responded to their concerns. my decision in july 30. -- hurt you. i apologize. i thought i've was doing the right thing. i made a mistake and i take full responsibility for it. there is only one issue starting today and that is what is good for our country. looking back will not solve any of our problems. looking forward, we can fix anything. >> he followed this campaign and you understood the
disappointment of people working for ross perot. histwhat did you come to learn about the reason for him leaving in july and getting back and in october? >> i think there were several reasons he decided to get out. the press or doing a lot of investigative stories on him he did not like. another thing was happening in the campaign. they brought some professionals in to help with the campaign. the pros had started taking over. it got really out of hand. he already had ham jordan who was a jimmy carter guy. and he brought and ed rollins. ed rollins wanted to do a slick tv ad. he wanted to do the traditional
campaign. ross perot did not want any of that. he wanted a very simple kind of campaign. he wanted to do it differently than anybody had ever done before. he just wanted to talk to the american people, when he could on tv. he wanted to do his infomercials where he would buy time and get on tv with his charts and explain what he thought was wrong with america and how to fix it. the pros came in and were trying to build up a different kind of campaign. he thought he had lost control of the campaign. it was not fun anymore. i think for a variety of reasons, he decided this was not going anywhere. we are not going to win. is grueling. we might as well cut it off. then there is another part to the story read his volunteers were mostly devastated. they were crying.
they were so upset. a lot of these people have put their lives on hold to work for him to get him on the ballot. all of a sudden he is pulling the plug like this. some of them were smart enough to see through that. he urged volunteers to go ahead and get him on the ballot because that would be their leverage. some of them thought, you know, i think he will probably come back. in fact, he came back and he did the kind of campaign he wanted to do all along. he wanted to do a short campaign. he always thought campaigns should be no longer than five months anyway. he came back and it was a spread to the finish. he had five weeks when he came back in october. he did his infomercials. he went on some talk shows. he finished the campaign like he started it. >> let me jump in there and take a call from mike from minneapolis.
>> great program. i have been watching this. ross perot, he used these demonstrations -- these commercials on tv. i vividly remembered as a young person he was demonstrating on the debt that america has and going through all of these things. i thought those were powerful presentations. i have never seen a candidate use that powerful presentation. and then the thing is i have heard mr. ross perot had accused a former president george bush of disrupting his daughter's wedding. he wanted to take revenge. that is one of the reasons he also ran. in today's elections for 2012, who would mr. ross perot be supporting? >> mike talked about the infomercials and the charts. let's show you a clip of that and we will come back to doug to talk about using charts and
infomercials' to talk about policy. >> tonight ross perot plain talked about jobs, debt, and the washington mess. >> good evening. we have talked a lot about the importance of having the american people fully informed so they can make intelligent decisions in the country. this is our first town hall. i thought it would be a good idea to take the most important problem first. that problem is our economy and jobs. here is the picture on our country's debt. look at how it has grown over the years. we are now up to $4 trillion in debt. that is a staggering load for our country. to help you understand how fast in this debt has grown and one in has group, the green is the debt we had in 1980. the red is the debt that has
been incurred in the last 12 years. we had an enormous growth in debt and we do not have anything to show for it. here is another headache. it is like a guy who came into a hospital and thought he had a sore arm and found out he had been green. -- gangrene. here we are. where tough and we can handle it. look right here at the red. 70% of that $4 trillion debt is payable in the next five years. folks at washington financed long-term problems short-term to keep the interest rates down. that is suicide in business. suicide in your personal life. that is suiciding government. >> did ross perot begin a trend that politicians would follow? >> you guys at c-span follow capitol hill. you see it in congress all the time. this was hitting a large audience. what is amazing is it is still the issue of our time.
he is trying to really drive, a point that we were going to go down as a country if we kept racking up debt. he was a business person and a fiscal conservative. he believed you have to keep your books balanced. he ran to make that point more than anything else. i read he once said, i grew up as a young man wanting to become a pearl and i ended up becoming an irritant to the oyster. he wanted to wake us up to what he saw as a very large problem. the reason may be 10 years ago, we were getting a surplus. in this 2011-2012 environment, this pie chart is freightening. when you put that chart up to today's $15 trillion in debt, ross perot was on to trying to wake us up as a paul revere kind of figure. this could be the doom of the
united states if we do not address the problem. >> we have had two callers who asked about mr. perot's accusations concerning dirty tricks with his daughter's wedding. that was one of the issues he talked about with his departure from the campaign in july. in the interest of time, can you briefly tell that story or what his accusations were? >> i do not think he accused bush of doing it. he thought the republicans were playing dirty tricks. his daughter was getting married. it was one of the reasons he did get out. i should have mentioned it before. i do not know what the story was that they were going to put her head on somebody else's body in a photograph and sell it -- get the tabloids to use it. he was very concerned about his
family. his family was really special. the thought of that happening was too much for him. it was another reason he did get out. >> the last question for both of you is, is there anyone on a national stage today who would be an heir to ross perot? >> there have been other third- party movements. in 1948, strom thurmond and the dixiecrats, 1968 with george wallace and the american party. but he was really trying to create a centrist movement. that is why he hired ed rollins
there are republican strategist and burden jordan a democrat to working as campaign. he was trying to play down the middle. i do not think we have somebody willing to get in the game like that. you hear sometimes mayor bloomberg name has been evoked. donald trump has all these games for his own publicity, but he has not gone into the game and focused on the issue. i think one of the things in thinking about ross perot is he actually did it. it is wanting to talk about it -- it is one thing to talk about it but to get on all 50 and to get to the point where you are getting 19% of the american people -- that 19% is still the middle-class center that both president obama and whoever the republican nominee is fighting for. the working class, blue-collar, patriotic, taxpaying american citizens and rust belt towns or tumbleweed towns in the west that are hurting economically.
he is talking about a massive reform. he is most like theodore roosevelt in 1912. couple months party. -- the bull moose party. they were the two most successful third party votes -- not electorial votes but popular votes of the 20th century. >> one question we did not answer from an earlier caller is whether or not ross perot's strained relationship with george bush was one of the animating factors in his campaign. do you know if that was a factor? >> i think it was a factor because he -- going back to the pow mia days, he thought that when bush was vice president the administration was not doing enough to get the mias and pows out of north vietnam. he went into the persian gulf war without a declaration of war. he also thought that president bush was too focused on foreign
affairs and was not a dress and the domestic problems of the day. he thought he did not understand the domestic problems of the day. the problems were very much like today. there are so many similarities with the economy, recession, loss of jobs, people feeling like it was no longer a government by, of, and for the people, but government for the politically powerful and special interests. so many similarities. i do think that he felt that george w. bush was not up to the job. and that was one of the reasons that he wanted to run. but back to the question of whether anybody could do it today, maybe somebody like bloomberg, mayor bloomberg,
somebody who does have their own money, who could do a similar campaign like him. but he was really uniquely positioned to run at that particular time. a conservative with a populist touch. and i think what happened to the reform party over the years shows the difficulty in maintaining this kind of a third party movement. yes, teddy roosevelt in 1912 got 27% and 88 electoral voters. then comes ross perot in 1992 and he got no electoral votes. he got almost 20 million votes. popular votes, no electoral votes. >> carolyn, with apologies, i got to -- >> they were the most successful. >> we're at the top of the hour with one hour left to go. and doug, a quick comment. >> one important quick comment.
i think the viewers really need to understand this. when we showed the pie charts of ross perot, and he's talking about this deficit and the debt. that could be eric cantor today. but what you also need to know, what makes him a more complex and different centrist figure, how are we going to make up that money? he says, ross perot, let's tax gasoline. let's put 10 cents a gallon for five years, raise billions to pay that off. the petroleum lobby, oil lobby of texas does not like this idea of taxing gasoline. but if we would have done it back then, the so-called clean -- the sustainable, renewable energy revolution, more people paying more for gas may have triggered that new kind of innovation and of corgs the left is very much likes that. so that pie chart on the one hand it seems like a conservative pie chart. on the other hand, how to pay it is something that the democrats like. and makes perot a true centrist. >> halfway through our two-hour look at the contender, ross perot, of 1992 and 1996
elections. next phone call is from granite false, washington. -- granite falls, washington. gloria, you're our next guest. >> i loved ross perot. i remember the 1920's. and looking -- i would think that what does ross perot think of all through the political spectrum, down through those years, franklin roosevelt, then all of the presidents. and we come to today, a total insanity. i watched the house of representatives. i watch the senate. and everything has been turned around so that only the -- certain people with a great deal of money it appears are able to turn the elections to their good. so i just -- i just wish that the good, solid, rock solid, senseability of ross perot
could do anything to help us today. >> thanks very much, gloria. colleen is up next in rutherford, new jersey. hi, colleen, you're on. >> hello. i have a really good question. but he just want to make a comment and i'm glad i came after the woman who lived -- the phone call prior. her living in the 1920's. because i was in my early 20's in the 1990's. and ross perot was the equivalent of a ron paul. the young people lotched ross perot. i used to run home and couldn't wait to watch his pie charts. i learned so much from him. and it's almost -- i almost forget bill clinton in those debates. because it really was -- ross perot really was the rock star for the people in their 20's. he had a huge following. i went to go see him in monmouth county but my question is he was very good friends with john mccain. and from what i understand, he
lost touch with john mccain, i think when john left his first wife. but he recently called a reporter from "the new york times" when john mccain was running for president. and i believe that reporter wrote an article, because ross perot made a personal phone call to him. that's my question. do you know anything about his falling out with john mccain? >> well, he was for mitt romney, ross perot, for the republican nomination the last presidential election. not mccain. it's part of that just fueds that ross perot has. we've got to really understand, this is -- mr. perot is not somebody playing right-left politics. he's not what we get on our cable talk show fest and even what's happening in washington, d.c. and so anybody who he thinks is abandoning principles on, for example, doing away with p.a.c.'s or super p.a.c.'s and
you can see that the mccain was willing to start compromising on a lot of this integrity and principles. and so perot, you know, abandoned him at that point. and i also want to say, the side of ross perot is about action. it's whatever it takes to fix the problem. he's not really about talk. i think there's a famous quote that's in their family or one of his favorite things is i don't want to hear about people that say the river is dirty. i want people that are going to clean the river. get out there and do things. and he's -- enigmatic in certain ways. you can't pigeonhole him. he's mercurial. he's a texan that wants strict gun control. and is for pro-environmental protection agency. he's pro-choice. yet, he's tough on issues about corporate -- corporate america and outsourcing of jobs, tough on the war on drugs.
you can go around. what you get is sort of an old style can-do american who believes in american exceptionalism but feels we're lurings our edge. that somehow after world war ii, americans got lazy. and not the everyday working people in america, but we've stopped -- everybody is looking for leisure time and perks instead of kind of fixing the country. the country comes before corporation to ross perot. in i think he's diagnosing 1992 and 1996 that americans' politics are broken and the financial system is broken. the military is not broken. and he's questioning how do we fix the other two? and he still feels that way today. >> the caller mentioned as a young person in her 20's watching the debates and cheering on mr. perot, and our next set of clips, we're going to do a montage from two of the three debates, presidential debates that happened that year. >> these young people, when
they get out of this wonderful university, will have difficulty finding a job. we've got to clean this mess up. leave this country in good shape and pass on the american dream to them. we've got to collect the taxes to do it. if there's a fairer way, i'm all ears. \[laughter] but -- but -- see, let me make it very clear. people don't have the stomach to fix these problems. i think it's a good time to fix it in november. if they do, then they will have heard the harsh reality of what we have to do. i'm not playing lawrence welk music tonight. you have to -- the nafta, $1 an hour, no environmental controls, etc., etc., and you're going to hear a giant sucking sound of jobs being pulled out of this country right at the time when we need the tax base to pay the debt and pay down the interest on the debt and get our house back in order. the debt and get our house back
in order. who can give nelves a 23% pay race -- themselves a 23% pay raise anywhere except congress? who would have 200 airplanes worth $2 billion to fly around? i don't have a free reserve parking place at national airport, why should my servants? i don't have an indoor tennis court and a place where i can make free tv to send to my constituents to elect me the next time. and i'm paying for all that for those guys. >> ross perot in three moments from the debates in the fall of 1992. and for the incumbent, george h.w. bush, there was a tough moment in those debates. you will recall he was captured looking at his watch. during one of the debates. that became emblematic. we got a campaign. do you remember that moment? >> of course i remember the moment. and look, george her better
walker bush, who had a tough year in 1992, everything was going wrong. that's -- remember when james carville said it's the economy, stupid. and he sort of felt this was getting beneath him. we forget that debates haven't been always there. 1960, we had the kennedy-nixon debates but we didn't have presidential debates all the way until 1976. and there was some feeling particularly where george her better walker bush that debates were a waste of time. that it was all about owning a sound bite and not about building an organization or running the country was about. but it didn't help president bush to be looking -- glancing at his watch in that regard. and i think it cost him in the election. perot and clinton did better in these debates than bush. >> how did ross perot fare in the debates in the eyes of the public? >> well, i thought, you know, i agree with doug that he probably won the debates. and when george bush looked at his watch, it sort of reinforced the idea that people had that he was not really engaged in the campaign.
the debates were critical for perot. and when the debates were over, he had risen back up to maybe 21%. in 1996, he was not in the debates. and it made a big difference. i think he only got maybe 8% in 1996. so i think going back to the question, could anybody else do it today? the problem might be getting on the debates. because now the commission on presidential debates has such stringent requirements. somebody would have to meet a 15% threshold in i think maybe five different polls before they would be allowed to be in the general election deekts. so the debates were very critical for perot, the success that he had. at getting his message out.
>> carolyn joining us from dallas who wrote a book about ross perot's 1992 campaign and the people who helped him get on the ballot in all 50 states. let's take our next call for carolyn and doug. it's from houston, texas. gregory, you're on the air. >> hi. good evening. i had a couple of quick questions. first was besides having the most popular votes since t.r., what similarities do you see with mr. perot and ted yes roosevelt in terms of their views -- teddy roosevelt in terms of their views and outlooks and politics? who were some of the role models for ross perot? he seems to have -- he seems to have followed the mantra of william jennings brian, harry s. truman, the buck stops here. >> douglas brinkley has written a biography about teddy roosevelt. you'll take that question. >> when i got to talk to mr. perot he has two evergreen heroes and it's theodore roosevelt and winston churchill. and he takes a lot from them.
we forget now that both of them were considered in t.r.'s case a damn cowboy when roosevelt became president, he was just -- mckinley was assassinated. and the republican party of mark hanna and the old mckinley machine didn't trust t.r. he was considered an iconoclast and individualist and the cowboy notion. ross perot, his father was a cotton broker. but also was a -- broke horses, went to cattle auctions, considered himself a bit of a texas cowboy. and everything about theodore roosevelt is impressed ross perot. and i think gave him courage, if t.r. can do a bull moose party, why can't i run in 1992? and churchill it gout woes saying, anybody who loves -- it goes without saying, anybody who loves grit, winston churchill is your figure and the two people he admires most. in his office a portrait of
george washington and talks about the founding fathers. but which founding father ross perot is like, i thought about in today. patrick henry. we always talk about the other founding fathers, the ones who become president. but this is about the contenders. and how do you have an american revolution woult that figure like patrick henry, an irritant? those are the type of people that ross perot admires. >> next is a call from ron watching us in everett, washington. we're talking about ross perot. hey, ron. >> good evening. and i would like to challenge dr. brinkley a little bit. i think the comparison was t.r., even though perot may have idolized him, is heavily overdrawn. and you mentioned just a few minutes ago that -- if i understood correctly, that perot favored a flat tax. and of course that's the antithesis of progressism. i think t.r. was way out there to the left. and -- in the liberal, progressive tradition and even of course obama this week was -- speaking on the 100th
anniversary of a t.r. speech there. and i don't -- even though he may have supported oil tax, i don't think he really was a wilderness warrior the way -- >> nor is he winston churchill. one is not suggesting that. those were his heroes and people -- t.r. is known as -- edward morris and myself, many sided americans, a lot of people see in theodore roosevelt what they want to see in theodore roosevelt. but this ability to -- with t.r. and his love of the navy and wrote the two volume war of 1812 and ross perot a naval academy graduate and can't go to the naval academy and not admire theodore roosevelt, and in the navy and also as i mentioned, the cowboy side of t.r. but no, when you're getting with the bull moose party platform versus ross perot in many there's many, many, differences and many decades apart. but it's the boy scout part. theodore -- you mentioned ross
perot's eagle scout. theodore roosevelt is the original champion of the boy scouts. so it's harkening back to that kind of view of america. but in politics, great differences and i wouldn't compare him -- the way you're suggesting to t.r. or winston churchill or anybody. it's just -- those are the people he admires and collects books on and likes to read about and have inspired him in the same way henry ford and thomas edison were people that inspired him in business. >> taylorsville, illinois. this is ed. hello. ed, are you there? >> yes. from taylorville, illinois. >> yes, sir. >> i voted for perot in 1992. and i believe that's how clinton got elected and bush didn't seem like he cared whether he got elected or not. >> thanks very much. do you think that ross perot was responsible for the election of bill clinton, carolyn? >> i do.
and i think there were two impacts. one is he -- similar to teddy roosevelt, he split the republican vote. and in that way, roosevelt denied taft a second term. perot split the conservative vote. and denied bush a second term. but he did another thing, i think, by getting in the race, and beating up on bush all along the way, kind of softened him up for clinton to come in and make the kill. so i think it was sort of a two tiered effect there. and i do -- i'm not sure how the campaign would have played out without him. but i certainly think that part. impact of his being in the race was that clinton was elected. >> next call is from rick in memphis, tennessee.
hey, rick, you're on the air. >> glad to be here, folks. i'm going to assert that ross perot last time he ran was exactly what the united states needed. and now there is no question, much stronger, is exactly what the united states needs. and i would like to ask -- i'm not too well on what's going on, why is he not in the 2012 race? and also, why in the world are neither the republican or democratic candidates making a run in ross perot's image? i don't see how anybody running like that could help but win. >> why haven't we heard from ross perot in this cycle? >> i think the time has passed him and he had all of it he wanted in 1992 suspect 1996 and was really sort of a reluctant candidate in 1996. and i think that he's -- he's
older now. i just think he's not interested in getting back in the fray. >> and 81 by our calculation. born in 1930. kalamazoo, michigan. connor, you're on. >> does ross perot have any opinion on jesse ventura? fellow reform party? >> i don't know his opinion of him personally but did not get behind jesse ventura who was a little surprising because ventura being a naval -- navy seal, and of course the reform governor of minnesota, but ross perot didn't really get behind him and his efforts very much. so there's a little bit of a schism there. i think by 1996, ross perot felt like he did what he wanted to do. again, i stress for people, this notion of being an irritant. he was always trying to just make us pay attention to issues. i know when we talked about
running, you're talking about win being the white house -- about winning the white house. but ross perot, more than personally becoming president, and probably wouldn't have picked stockdale if that was his sole intention in 1992 was to remind people of duty, honor, country, old style american values and to grapple with that debt issue which he as a business person, he found repulsive, a bad road for america to take. >> we have referenced several times that ross perot won 19% of the popular vote and no electoral college votes and let's look opt screen over this next telephone call how the incumbent president george h.w. bush and the victor, bill clinton, governor of arkansas, in the final tally and we will listen to judy from ogden, utah. you're on, judy. >> one guy that got us all interested in politics back then. and with the nafta agreement. we used to go to the meetings he had with his helpers and we tore that nafta agreement apart.
and we would all take a chapter home and read it and come back and discuss it. and boy, people ought to read that someday and see the fiasco they did on it. and what i was wondering is can you see anybody around at all in the future that would be anybody like him? thank you. >> thanks very much. we have a question for -- is there anyone in the wings? >> i think they have to come out of the military today. i mean, there is this -- we used to be -- to be president you had a military background. but ross perot is part of that tradition. so maybe somebody out of -- an admiral or general someday will come in and run a third party movement. but i don't see anybody out there that's ready to get -- put skin in the game right now that's taking seriously. buddy romer, he's no ross perot. you got to have i think the money to raem do a third party. and as previously mentioned, it's hard to get into the debates and -- in the way the system is set up today. but america always produces unusual people at key moments.
and i'm sure there will be sometime in the future a serious third party candidate. >> americans seem to have something of a flirtation with business people as presidents. but get so far. for example, ross perot, there was some talk about herman cain being -- earlier this year, also mayor bloomberg was mentioned as a businessman who might solve america's economic issues. we get so far as an electorate with them. and then not all the way to the finish line. can you talk a little bit about the kinds of people americans seem to want as leaders. >> i think that's a wonderful point. we like the idea of somebody who is not part of washington. somebody who is going to do what's right for the country. and not be beholden to the democratic party or the republican party. we elect people from the military or corporate people and somebody who runs a company and knows how to run the government. and yet, once you have to start going on all the tv shows and traveling, and every aspect of your life gets investigated, i don't know how many people that
want to run anymore. it's become pretty brutal for -- you basically have to run for two or three years nonstop. and president obama and i'm sure republican romney or gingrich or whoever it might be have to raise about $1 billion. and it's very off-putting in america and i think we need to really investigate how we can shorten this nonstop running. because the president has very little time. they get elected and are running another election in this country all the time. i don't see how it's helping us. >> that caller mentioned ross perot's involvement in nafta. the north american free trade agreement. which was hallmark of the clinton administration. ross perot got very involved in the debate about that after his unsuccessful bid for the white house. and our next clip is a very well watched debate about nafta with then vice president al gore. again on the "larry king live"
program on cnn. >> i didn't interrupt you. >> guys -- >> we got to have a climate in this country where we can create jobs in the u.s.a. one way that the president and vice president can do for us and they're not. >> i would like to say something about that. that's a direct political threat against anybody who votes for this. >> colin powell -- >> a great soldier and doesn't know anything about business. >> i don't want to sit here and listen to you just take shots at president clinton. >> if we keep shipping our manufacturing jobs across the border and around the world, and deindustrialized our country, we will not be able to defend this great country. and that is a risk we will never take. >> he started off as head of the united we stand and i'm afraid he's going to end up as head of divided we fall. everything that he is worried about will get worse if nafta is defeated. this is an historic opportunity
to do that. >> thank you both for this historic evening. >> carolyn barta, body language in that clip from larry king live is really interesting to watch. we looked at some reporting. and it suggests that support for nafta before that debate was about -- was only about 34%. and after, i'm not sure directly related but after it went up to 57% among the american public. what was the view of how ross perot fared with this issue? >> you know, i really can't say. i don't recall -- i just remember that he had the debate with gore. and i did not realize that he -- that he lost that debate as decisively as you have just said. i thought a lot of people agreed with his position that, you know, the giant sucking sound or the jobs going away. and in fact, i think he's proved to be pressurient about that. that's what's happened. >> next call is from larry in
the florida keys. you're on the air, larry. >> hey, how are you doing? i appreciate the opportunity. i just wanted to ask, this t.r. setup, it's not the first. the national wildlife refuge is down here in the florida keys to protect birds, who were being poached for their feathers. does that ever come up in any of the debates in that year? old but not that old. >> ok. thanks very much. do you recall that conservation issues were very much at the forefront in 1992? >> no. but ross perot as we -- when you hear about that anti-naest is very worried about -- anti- nafta is very worried about the environmental degradation going on in mexico. he was somebody who wanted corporations regulated. as i mentioned earlier, pro- e.p.a. andd caller is talking about theodore roosevelt in florida had protected pelican island, florida off vera beach created our first wildlife refuge and saved part of the ding darling national wildlife refuge so
t.r. was very much in bird protection and protecting of wild florida. i would not put conservation in that way high on ross perot's list. but i put him on the side of being a conservationist. he was simply in that climate in 1992 to be pro-e.p.a. in the way that he was. and in this election, many republicans don't like the e.p.a. and ross perot did because he did feel that companies needed to be regulated. >> in 1994, the g.o.p. had an historic retaking. house of representatives. newt gingrich who is a candidate for president this year around was looked upon as the architect of that and became speaker. house and set the stage for a huge debate over the size of the debt leading to a government shutdown that very much pitted the two men, president clinton and newt gingrich, against one another. how responsible was ross
perot's highlighting of the debate issue for those subsequent events? >> that's a good question. i think it was quite important. i think it started making people worry about the deficit. but again, remember, ross perot is talking about paying for it with a gasoline tax which you don't hear republicans talking about. but it became a big worry of the people by the time of -- throughout the clinton era. and i might also add when we're looking at that famous gore- perot clip, remember, nafta became popular with both democrats and republicans. it was al gore and bill clinton were pro nafta but also george her better walker bush republicans -- herbert walker bush republicans. it was only labor unions were opposed to it. and here you have ross perot probably more right center than left center. deeply opposed to it for the reasons he said. i think the outsourcing of jobs more than anything else is what perot was focused on in the mid
1990's. >> carolyn barta, you told us about this story before but in 1995 ross perot started to organize the -- what became the reform party. can you tell us a little bit about that effort. and how the reform party took shape. >> well, the people who had worked on the perot campaign in 1992 wanted to remain involved. and for a while, even, were very active as, you know, shadowing their congressmen and sending letters and so forth. so the reform party was organized to try to create a vehicle that would be a stable political influence of third party. and then there was -- in the convention of 1996, perot and dick lamb who had been the
governor of colorado indicated an interest in running on the reform party ticket. and perot re-emerged to lead the ticket. so that probably was the high point for the reform party. after that came jesse ventura was elected governor of minnesota in 1998, i believe. and then 2000, pat buchanan was the nominee, the presidential nominee for the party. and buchanan was a firebrand conservative but also a populist. but he certainly could not motivate the reform party people like perot did. and the party was sort of found -- it initially was established with the same kind of
priorities that perot had set in his first campaign. reducing the deficit. term limits. some of these issues that ended up being in the contract for america. so i think there was definitely an impact. and you saw the republican party co-opt some of those issues. term limits was never passed. but it was part of the contract. gingrich's contract. so i think that -- with buchanan in 2000, the party was struggling to find its core. what was it all about? and a lot of people thought that perot -- i mean, not perot, buchanan, did not really represent them. did not represent their interests very well. and i think what's happened since then, the party really has
sort of fizzled. there's still a few state affiliates that are trying to be active, maybe hatch a dozen or so. but their presidential candidate got a handful of votes the last time around. so i think it just shows us that it's really very hard -- i thought that it was going to be a stable political influence. and that once established, that it would be a challenging party in years to come. but that's not happened. it certainly has just fizzled. and actually, i think sort of re-emerged in the tea party movement. so i think maybe these movements just have a short-term life. >> let's go to galveston, texas. joe is watching. >> yes, hello. >> yes, sir. >> well, you know, first of all, i would like to really,
really and then people call in and say, you're on one side or you're on the other. but by and large, you're probably the most unbiased media available. and the greatest asset to being able to understand what's going on in our political situation that we have. and i really appreciate the way -- so many people on from both sides. and i think it's a wonderful, wonderful thing to watch. and ask all these questions. >> thanks for your kind words. do you have a comment about mr. perot? >> i do. first of all, i'm from texas. so we got really, really involved when ross perot was running. and he said so many things that made so much sense. and a lot of people got behind him. and first of all, i don't think that the balanceed budget would have happened had not ross perot been up there, having all those charts and graphs to
educate people. and i would like to hear david brinkley's comment on that. and one more comment. and that would be that when they talk about teddy roosevelt, teddy roosevelt was the one that broke up standard oil in new jersey. and i can't imagine ross perot ever being someone that would condone breaking up a large corporation. teddy roosevelt was in a league of his hone but i would like to hear david's comment. >> it's doug brinkley who is our guest tonight and probably happens to you pretty frequently. >> it does. >> teddy roosevelt seems to have struck a chord. >> president obama talked about the new nationalism. and a couple of things i would like to mention. i'm reflecting on what we've been talking about here. one of the big things to keep in mind with ross perot in 1992 is that you had the soviet union collapse. the cold war ended in 1991.
when perot is entering in 1992. the question, there was a lot of jubilation with that. we've been fighting the cold war from harry truman on down, taxpayers had built up this huge deficit to win the cold war. and the fact that perot was being this sort of irritant in the 1990's, worrying about our -- a deficit and everybody was running up deficits. all over the world. he seemed a little more erratic than anybody -- today, we hear these bites. and he seems prescient on a lot of things. but he was a fly in the ointment of 1992-93 when america was looking -- the buzz word was globalization. and also, political correctness became a great term. well, he wasn't keen on globalization. he was about america first. and he was kind of a curmudgeon in many ways on a lot of issues. so i'm not sure we could have even done this sort of retrospect on mr. perot like we're doing tonight, maybe even a decade ago. it would have seemed a little more of a quirky, offbeat
character. but there are those sides to him in his biography. points he raised are really -- resonate with people right now. and with theodore roosevelt, all -- the point about t.r. is only one. and that's about service to country. that's what t.r. was all about. you don't lie. you tell the truth. you stay loyal to your friends. and the service to the country. and that's that -- it's in the american grain. it's americanism. and that's what spoke to ross perot. not every issue that t.r. took on all this, but it was the character of the man. >> in 1996 the economy was getting pretty row bust. the tech bubble was part of our economic fabric. bill clinton was the incumbent president seeking re-election. the republicans had nominated long-time senator from kansas and senate leader bob dole. and the big difference our guest
said was during the fall campaign, ross perot was not permitted to take part in the debates. on the screen right now are the results on election night. 1996 with president clinton achieving 49% of the votes. 379 electoral college votes. bob dole, 169 -- excuse me, 159 electoral college votes so just 40% of the vote. ross perot, zero. and different showing than his four years earlier. just over 8% of the popular vote in 1996 elections. our next clip is ross perot on election night, 1996, talking about the future of the reform party. >> we're going to keep the issues. i think they've gotten the word on campaign finance reform. don't you? [cheers and applause] navy repented and been reborn -- they've repented and been reborn and they will go to heaven and it's done.
but that's got to stop. we have got to get that done. and we have got to get campaign reform in terms of the time for campaign and all that done. we must set the highest ethical and moral standards for the people who serve in our government. and all that has got to be changed from rules to laws in the next four years. and we're going to have to stand at the gate and keep the pressure on. and we will. [cheers] we will not let our children and grandchildren pay an 82% tax rate which he our government forecast they will. we have got to have a balanced budget amendment. we've got to have the plan to balance the budget. and all the things that you have fought so hard and so long for. and we've got to stand at the gate to make sure that happens. if we want to pass on a better, stronger country to our children. we will make the 21st century
the best in our country's history. but you and i have to stay on watch. we have to keep the pressure on. and as i've said a thousand times to both parties, when they say what does it take to make all of you people go away? and that is do all of this, and then we don't have anything to talk about, right? it's done. thank you. you've worked night and day. you've done a tremendous job. take a little break. and then we'll climb back in the ring and keep the pressure on to see that everybody keeps those promises, right? [cheers] >> ross perot on election night in 1996. doug brinkley, he talked about the need for the people to keep the pressure on. but without a galvanizing figure, you often pointed out to us the truth is our national debt is three times what it was when ross perot was talking about it in 1992. what happened to the spirit and
the energy of the people in that middle who were the perotites or reform party members? >> they're out there. i think they're called swing voters right now. i think many of them are independents. we have a lot of people that are independent. and many people that don't really want to be associated with the democratic orand perot's legacy speaks to that. at the outset of the program, you mentioned occupation wall street. people protesting on the left and tea party on the right. and it's about grassroots people getting engaged, getting involved. making themselves heard. so it's just not a group of money people kind of running our democracy. there's a spirit to ross perot. i've never been convinced he was dead serious about winning the white house in 1992 or 1996. i feel what he was trying to do which many of these contenders have tried to do, some of the ones that weren't -- just to stir things up. to get people to talk about issues. and he succeeded in that regard. you didn't have to win the white house to make a difference.
it's about getting into the arena. and he took -- got beat up some. but he picked himself back up. and today, he's probably the first citizen of dallas with his business interests. and he created -- just recently, sold dell, not recently, a few years back, for a fortune. some of his business innovations. and if you can't be in dallas without being touched by his philanthropy. and you can't be a veteran of american wars and not have a debt to ross perot, too. so he's made a difference. and that's why he was sent the walking stick of bin laden or the navy seals. >> robert, you're on. good evening. >> yes. thank you for c-span. i remember the 1992 election well. and ross perot, he was a viable candidate. he was prescient on the deficit.
he seemed to speak common sense. he was a patriot. he went to the nflpa academy -- to the naval academy. but he was unelectable because he was mercurial and started a if company, e.d.s. that benefited from government contracts. he selected james stockdale for his vice president. and that debate was a gunfight and his candidate was not prepared for that. he dropped out. race, claiming dirty tricks by the republicans and re-entered the race. he had previously opposed mya lindh for the vietnam war memorial and did it in a relatively nasty way. you say he wasn't a candidate who wasn't trying to win but i don't think he could have won. what do you think? >> i agree with that. i'm not sure it was possible to win. in 1992 or 1996 against bill clinton and the democrats and an incumbent president who had just won the gulf war and saw the breakup of the soviet union, german reunification and
many other policy issues. so he was as i've said a few times now, somebody trying to raise consciousness level on issues that he thought were important for the country. and the reason he's important to history is some of those issues that he raised in 1992 are still with us today. and only in a more -- more of a fashion than 1992. look at things william jennings bryan said that happened in the new deal or something that charles evan hughes that reflects on the eisenhower era. perot raised some issues we are still grappling with and always a reminder that we have a third party option. that maybe sometime that if these other parties get too arrogant, there will be some voice from the heartland or of america that comes up and strikes a different chord. and i worry that the debates make it very hard for a third
party candidate to get into the mix. so perot in that regard may be one of the last to have been able to pull that -- something like that off. >> carolyn barta mentioned ross perot in the summer of 1992 had hired ed rollins and hamilton jordan to be involved in his campaign. after the 1992 election, ed rollins who continued to -- in his political work, and is still active today, talks a bit about his view of the perot candidacy. we have a clip of that right now. >> the bottom line, it wasn't that perot was difficult to deal with. it was that perot never wanted to run that kind of a campaign. he always wanted to do what he did, run the last 30 days. and i think the -- that's all he thought he had to do. why should i waste all my money early when it really doesn't matter until the end? he never understood getting defined in a negative way during the summer. obviously the guy has a lot of paranoia. they always say about paranoia
you only have to be right once to make it all worthwhile. [laughter] but the bottom line is it just -- he dent understand the political system. -- didn't understand the political system. had a disdain for it. that made it more and more difficult. when we were trying to argue what you had to do to -- deal with the media and lay out your issues and define yourself, he saw that as traditional politics and he was against traditional politics. well, in the end, he ran a very short-lived traditional campaign in which he ended up getting very negative in the end. and won 19% of the vote. if he would have run a real campaign, there was a very serious chance of this man being a very viable candidate for president. drawing an awful lot of support from both george bush and bill clinton. >> carolyn barta, you hear ed rollins' analysis after the fact. anything there that you agree or disagree with in his summation?
>> well, yeah. i think that at one point, perot was a very viable candidate. but i think that he was as the caller said before, he was quirky. he was mercurial. and as people got to know more about him, that they were -- they questioned whether or not he was temperamently suited to be in the white house. and i'm not sure even that perot thought that he was suited to be in the white house. and perhaps the sentiment that's been expressed that he didn't really want to be president, he wanted to stir up the american people, he wanted to be the nation's civics teacher. he wanted to make democracy work again for the people. so i think that he resisted
traditional politics in many ways. and for good reason. he thought that the way that political campaigns are run today are really silly. i mean, flying around from place to place trying to get a sound bite on network tv. a plane of press following you around. essentially in a bubble. listening to the same speech over and over again. what are they going to learn? he thought that the press should be out talking to the people. what are their concerns of the people? and then how are the candidates addressing those concerns? so i think rollins wanted to run a traditional campaign. perot didn't want to run a traditional campaign and for a good reason in his mind. he thought traditional campaigns are out of date and are not working for the american
people. and i must say, i think that we've seen in election campaigns since then, that the media has just grown more and more powerful and dominant. in some of the campaigns. >> doug, as care len is talking, i was just -- carolyn is talking, i was just thinking about perotisms and his catch phrases in the age of twitter. >> gosh, yes. that's true. he would have probably been able to use twitter quite well. get words out there, ideas out there to the people. and we've talked about tonight, is innovating in the format or going on larry king, larry king was free media. and many politicians use that but buying these -- and keep in mind, he's -- it's hard to create another ross perot. he's just a maverick. he's an iconoclastic candidate and a billionaire and had the money to do what he did.
and he would have enjoyed being president and would have served the people well but i don't think his heart was in it in 1992 or 1996. it was really about getting the democracy and the people back -- he -- his core, he disdains lobbyists. and washington is a town filled with lobbyists. >> ross perot not only took advantage of paid media, but benefited from the popular culture coverage of his campaign. next is a series of clips from "saturday night live" whose regular program on saturday nights took great advantage. ross perot candidacy in 1992. let's take a look. >> and because we at abc feel it is important for you to hear his views, and ross perot is with us from houston. mr. perot, do you feel that you have been blackballed by the two major political parties? >> it's like this. the other two candidates, they
are not addressing the issues. >> thank you, mr. perot. >> my reform party is going to have a convention and volunteers want me, that's fine. but see, larry, this is not about me. it's about the american people plain and simple. >> ross, what about this commercial that aired last week? >> vote for me. i'm ross perot. i'm running for president. vote for me, please. would you vote for me? please, please, please, vote for me. [applause] >> this whole thing fascinates me, really. see, you don't have to be a ph.d. at harvard to know that our kids are going to to inherit
a $4 trillion deficit. and that's just a crime, see. now, if i'm president, we start cleaning up this mess on day one. it's going to take some sacrifice, no doubt about it. but i know the american people are ready and prepared, this is your country, let's take it back. >> a clip from saturday night live in 1992 and 1996 and all but the first was dana carvey portraying ross perot. we have about 10 minutes left in our contenders discussion of ross perot and his 1992 and 1996 bids for the white house. let's take our next phone call for our two guests. from pleasantville, new york. tony, you're on the air. >> hi. good evening, susan, how are you? >> great, thanks. >> when ross perot in the spring of 1992, when ross perot was at about 32%, they had -- there were three books written about ross perot before most people even knew him. one was you mentioned wings of eagles. there was an autobiography by a dallas news reporter called ross perot and the best of the
three at the time was doron leven's book irreconcilable differences, ross perot versus general motors. in may as i said, in may, after he had announced when he was at 32%, i watched sam donaldson on "this week with david brinkley" make a statement about ross perot, the conversation around the roundtable was basically this guy is at 32%. do you think he can win? and donaldson made a statement something to the effect of what do we know about this guy? he came out of nowhere. now, at that time, the three books were in print already. donaldson noted for being a big mouth covering the white house, making probably $500,000 a year to make a statement like that about ross perot, had not even read the books, probably, to make a statement. mr. brinkley, what do you think about and ms. barta, what do you think about abc news allowing sam donaldson to make a statement like that and not following it up?
>> well, there's also -- i believe ken gross on perot, if anybody watching wants to read a real fine book, he was a new york journalist and it's an excellent book on perot. i don't know the moment you're talking about. sam donaldson i thought was a great and exciting commentator. certainly during the reagan years, he was always sticking the questions to president reagan. and they ended up becoming great friends. he's really a journalistic legend, sam donaldson. so i wouldn't want to say anything negative about him and i can't see the context of what you're talking about. but the spirit of it is i understand, and you're making a good point. sometimes the washington media people think that nobody is accomplished at their -- if they're not part of a kind of new york-washington-boston axis. and here's ross perot, a legend at that time, and in texas, which everybody in texas knew quite a bit about. because he had worked on education reform and most well-
known person in the state of texas. so it just seems to be donaldson -- the spirit of it is what you're saying. just screwed up. >> carry lynn barta, from 19 -- carolyn barta, from 1996 after he lost the second time how involved was ross perot? did he exit from the national stage or did he stay involved? >> pretty much exited, i think. he was not -- not particularly involved in issues or in the reform party after that. i think -- 1992 was really the unique time. because of the -- the sense of alienation that people had with government. the dissatisfaction with government. the economic problems. and then 1996, as you said earlier, when things started to
come back, the political climate didn't exist anymore. and he did not -- he wanted the people to stay active. and involved. but the climate didn't exist for the kind of perot phenomenon to happen again as it did in 1992. and i think that was sort of his swan song. he got out after that. >> sacramento, hello, to jason as we talk about ross perot. you're on. >> yeah. i just want to ask, how do you feel perot would do in the 2013 election currently if he was on the same wavelength that he was on in 1992? and another question, if you don't mind, was i believe it was -- we said 19% of the vote in 1992 or something. >> that's right. >> i recall it being in the millions. i forget the number. but i know it wasn't too far behind for a third party.
it was a -- there you go. my question is how is it possible that he didn't win one electoral vote? i know it's how electoral process works. but i find it just amazing that not one vote, not one state, he had the majority in, not even a small state. just amazing to me with the numbers that he has. just very shocking and shocking in 1992 when i voted for him and it was shocking to look at the numbers again now. >> jason, your first question about how he would do in the 2012 election, mr. perot is in his early 80's. are you seriously interested in bringing him back into the process at this point? >> thank you. of course not now. but if it were 20 years later when he actually was -- if he was the same as 1992. how would he do now? >> if can you take ross perot of that period and drop him into our current time frame, how would he do? >> he came in second in 1992 in utah and maine. did not win a state. and it just tells you that is where his support was. this was -- very hard for a third party candidate to track
against a democratic party and the apparatus and when you have -- at any given time, half of congress and half of the senate on your side and analysts there were really ultimately a two- party system. once in a while, a third party movement comes in there and it's a slap in the face to the other two parties. the seminal question which we can't answer that historians can debate but we'll never have a definitive answer is who did perot help and hurt in 1992? if he had not run, could george herbert walker bush beat bill clinton? did he actually serve as a spoiler for president bush? or as some people suggest his support came from liberals and conservatives and it was a wash. in a way, that 19% wasn't that relevant. because he drew -- he was so center oriented in many ways. radically center if you like but took from both right and left. and we can't really clearly answer that question. but most people would say he hurt george herbert walker bush.
that he was more conservative perot, he came from texas and that challenge hurt bush a lot. because he was the incumbent. so bill clinton was helped by perot in 1992. >> some analysis of the numbers of supporters suggest that 70% of the perot voters had voted for george bush in 1998. >> 1988. 1988. excuse me. we have a couple of minutes left. to the second caller, the caller's second question. i want to pay a clip and this is our last one of the evening. this is one from ross perot's infomercials that he purchased before the 1992 election. and the 30-minute commercial in october, the first one he did, october of 1992, and he looks ahead from 1992 to the year 2020. let's listen. >> let's look at the growth of federal spending and see if there's a trend here. go on to 1950, there's obviously a trend here. we've gone up to 25% of our gross national product.
that's excessive. and hold on to your hat. if you and i don't aaction now as owners of this country, the forecast shows that by the year 2020, federal spending will be 41% of the gross national product. we can't take 25%. we certainly can't take 41%. it's like having willie sutton in charge of the bank, folks. he was a famous bank robber and i asked him, why do you rob where the money is. well, our bank is being looted big time and we'll get down to how in a little bit. >> ross perot in his 1992 campaign. we have 30 seconds, doug brinkley, what was the ross perot candidacy all about? >> when i saw that pie chart, remember, preinternet even. preemailing. when clinton became president in 1993 nobody used email by the time he left office three billion emails going around the world and an antiquated moment. ross perot made a difference
and reminded people of old fashioned american values and reinvigorated the notion that a third party candidate can get into the mix. rausm nader made a difference -- ralph nader made a difference in 2000. he's a legend in the third party movement and just i think a person who is part of the contenders. >> carolyn barta, last 30 seconds, did ross perot make a difference? >> oh, absolutely. i think he was a wake-up call. he put issues on the agenda. and the deficit ended up being a surplus. the budget was balanced during the clinton years. so now maybe that tea party people think that we need another wake-up call. yes, he definitely had an impact. >> as we close out the series, two special thank you's to the
producer of this series and a guiding light. and to richard norton smith who has been our consultant in this project and really the brainchild behind it when we first got started thank you both for all your hard work. we close our last program with the look at his theme song, election night, 1992, as he is reading his supporters. >> having just said that, you have to play our campaign theme song, crazy. ok? here we go. crazy. ♪ crazy for feeling so lonely crazy crazy for feeling so blue
i knew you'd love me as long as you wanted crazy >> our campaign 20/20 coverage continues this labor day with senator kamala harris joining a roundtable with black business owners after meeting with ibew union members. that is live today at 4:50 p.m. eastern on c-span. >> next, a hearing on scams that have surfaced during the coronavirus pandemic. a senate subcommittee heard from officials on protecting the public, especially the senior population. this is just over two hours.