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tv   The Contenders  CSPAN  August 15, 2016 12:00am-2:03am EDT

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an independent candidate in the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections. this is about two hours. you're watching american history tv, only on c-span3. >> were going into debt and additional $1 billion, more than a million dollars every working day of the year. >> it's not republicans fault, it's not the democrats thought, but what i'm looking for is who did it? together, they did it. the facts are, we have to fix it. somewhere out there there is an extraterrestrial who is doing it to us, i guess. somebody, somewhere has to take responsibility of this. >> talking about one of his favorite issues, the u.s. debt.
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he won 19% of the popular vote, the largest vote for an independent candidate since theodore roosevelt. he ran his second independent campaign in 1996 and tonight he is our focus on the contenders. thanks for being with us. we are doing this series is a way to look at american history through the lens of presidential candidates who fail to reach the white house but had an impact on american history. ross perot is our final choice of 14 people we are profiling in the series. douglas brinkley joins us. as a person who has done a number of biographies on 20th
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century figures, what interested you about ross perot? brinkley: he had the pioneer spirit. he harks back to people like henry ford or thomas edison. he is not politics as usual. he really cares about the country. patriotism has become kind of a cheap word to talk about. ross perot was really a super patriot. he was less interested in money and politics than he was from doing what was right for the country. this comes out of his naval academy background and his constant service to our country. looking for pows and mias during vietnam and constantly supporting our special forces. the clip you just ran tells you that in 1992 perot focused on the central issue of our upcoming presidential election, the national debt. i think we were at $3 trillion in debt. today we are at $15 trillion. when he was talking about the great sucking sound of jobs leaving america due to nafta, outsourcing.
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it is probably on the left the issue that most stirs middle-class americans, the jobs that have gone overseas. people in the midwest and south are languishing. susan: the issues that ross perot was talking about in his campaign are still around today. the tea party, the occupy wall street people. brickley: yes, he is a centrist. you can't look at ross perot through the paradigm of typical people. he is something out of an older american tradition. wagon trains out west. world war ii or korean war heroes. inventors. that is what ross perot was really about. his entering in 1992 was not about politics but public
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service. he put his considerable amount of money where his mouth was. he ran and every season we have people flirting with third-party runs but ross perot did it. it is quite extraordinary to get 19% of the vote. it is kind of unprecedented. middle-class people all over america voted for him. it's interesting to reflect on the united we stand movement. he ran with the reform party in 1996. is there a ross perot that might enter the mix in 2012? if you look at his platform in 1992 he seems to have been right on a lot of the key issues
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including border problems, drugs, the need for public school education. he had very controversial things like adding to the gasoline tax. all these issues and these legacy really invigorates our current debate. susan: for many americans 1992 was their introduction to ross perot. he'd been on the national stage for a while. in the late 1980's he began speaking out about these issues that he was concerned about. we looked at our video library, our first clip of ross perot was back in 1987. here he is speaking for the american bankers association. ross perot: let's take off the rose colored glasses. we've had enough dr. feelgood. we are tough enough to take bad for him news. let's look at the facts. we got a $3 trillion debt. our debt is being funded by foreign nations at this point. the greatest nation in the history of man doesn't even have the will to pass a national budget. we continue to pass continuing
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resolutions that put us ever deeper into debt and we've given up trying to live within our means as a country. there is no correlation between taxes paid in and money spent. we're losing in the international business competition. some of our banks have problems. savings and loans have serious problems. him him him him wall street is bouncing all over the place. our personal spending habits are as bleak as our federal spending habits. our people spend everything they make, all they can borrow and they have no savings. susan: 24 years ago, and except for upping the numbers and the fact that americans are now reeling from the crisis all of these arguments could be the same. brinkley: that's correct. he was a genius at startup operations. he understood the corporate world. in 1962 he created electronic data systems and a few years before that speech he sold it to general motors and became
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arguably the richest person in texas. he got on the cover of fortune magazine. he knows what he's talking about in terms of how to start a business. he was at the forefront of what we would call the internet revolution. he was at the forefront of data collection. he even invested in apple. he worked for ibm when he was a young man. he really wanted the united states to be the great country that it was in his childhood. fdr brought us through the great depression and world war ii. a can-do spirit that feels him up. the fact that we were losing in the 80's to japan. today the problem is competing with china. with so many people in congress the lobbying in washington and getting rid of lobbyists was at the core of the perot message.
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susan: this is a call-in program and you make it very interesting. a few minutes we will put our phone number so the screens you can be a part of the conversation about ross perot and the issues he was involved in them and his legacy in our politics today. in 1993 this book was published: perot and his people: disrupting the balance of political power. the author, carolyn barta, is joining us from her home in texas. you knew ross perot as a texas journalist long before many americans met him. can you tell us about his roots in texarkana and his upbringing and what shaped the man we knew on the national stage? carolyn: perot was from texarkana and he had a very
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average texas childhood. he lived in a strong stable middle-class family. as a boy he broke horses and traded horses. he was an eagle scout. even in later life i think he kept all the traits of the eagle scout. he would set goals for himself and try to pursue those goals. he was very much in the texas tradition of his day. he grew into the naval academy and then started his own businesses. he represented the can-do spirit of texas. his vision was big in the state was big. there was boundless opportunity. he really played into the texas mythology with texas politicians who are larger-than-life. very successful businessmen who made a fortune here.
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you they were risktakers and they were not afraid to fail. that was the sort of spirit that he had. i think that got him into this thing. susan: it's worth noting that the naval academy he showed leadership traits and the ability to galvanize people under his leadership. just a quick overview of his business career. let's take a look at after the naval academy, he went to business into ibm as a salesman. he quickly became the top salesman for the company. that was in 1957. by 1962 he founded his own company, which is electronic data systems. in 1984 he sold the company to general motors for $2.4 billion and then stayed on the board for a number of years. in 1988 he founded perot systems and in 2009 he sold the company to dell for $3.9 billion.
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he and his family are known as philanthropists. can you talk about that side of mr. perot? carolyn: they've given a fortune to all sorts of charities here in dallas and mr. perot himself has made many anonymous contributions in small ways. without people even knowing about it. there's a hospital here named for margo perot, his wife. he's given a lot of money to the boy scouts. susan: you mentioned his involvement with the amount of pows. this created a divide between him and a later president. brinkley: he graduated from annapolis as the president of
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his class. he was the sort of person who believed you are only as good as the guy left behind. he was a great leader and during those years he was in the navy he sometimes would have to go and get people who were on leave or got drunk or went into town and get them back on the ship. it became hallmarks of his life that you never leave anybody behind. he was very upset during the vietnam war rightfully so that the united states didn't push the pow mia issue enough. ross perot stepped into that fight in a very dramatic way. it was through back channel negotiations to get pows home. he said we want everyone of our guys back. he has become a hero of the u.s. military veterans organizations. because of his constant concern about his soldiers and our troops. i gave a talk for veterans day in dallas.
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the group was called the daughters of world war ii. there were hundreds of world war ii vets there. i got to talk to ross perot over dinner one night and one of the most amazing stories was that recently when our team killed osama bin laden they shipped him the walking staff of bin laden. he subsequently went to fort pierce florida to the seal museum, which people should go visit if you are in florida. our navy seals this year should be the time magazine's people of the year. that was a tribute to how conscientious he is about
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getting jobs for former servicepeople, helping veterans whenever he can. especially the special forces which he thinks represents the best of the best of the american spirit. susan: we visited his boyhood home in texarkana. i would like carolyn to talk about his involvement with the texas governors on issues such as education reform and the war on drugs in his home state. carolyn: 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 was a democrat. but they both asked ross perot to serve. one was on education reform and i think it points out how perot was always one to speak his mind. he was never afraid to say what
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he thought. in the public schools there should be special classes for kids. some of the parents in texas thought that is elitism and maybe we don't want that for our schools. perot very sarcastically said ok, let's put all the fat girls on the drill team and let's have everybody be the quarterback. it was an example of how he only spoke his mind.
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he was never reluctant to take a job that he was asked to do for a couple of governors. democrats and republicans both liked him. for years his name had been mentioned as a potential candidate for something in texas. because he was a leader. he was also in the tradition of all-time texas politicians like sam rayburn and going back to sam houston. that kind of a charismatic leader. sam rayburn, lbj, john connolly, governor clements who certainly spoke his mind, and ann richards. he was so much like some of these older texans who would just tell it like it is. they didn't mind doing the hard work. he thought it would help the country he didn't mind doing the
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hard work to do it. susan: one more bit of the perot biography that we will put on the screen before we get to his campaign in 1992 and a number of eds workers were held hostage in iran. perot was personally involved in the rescue. it was captured in a book by ken follett called on wings of eagles that became a national bestseller and later a movie on television. can you talk about how this builds the personal biography? brinkley: this is an amazing story. jimmy carter was president, you have the beginnings of the iranian revolution. some of the workers for his company had been held captive and he wanted them sprung. he went and hired a former special forces guy to go in and find a way to get them loose. using an anti-khomeini rally to
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go in and spring them not just the two americans is to employees but about 10,000.0 prisoners as well. they had a rendezvous and it was a very dangerous trip they were smuggled out through turkey. this was a highly successful extraction to get in there and get the people out. if you are loyal to him and his company, he will do anything for you. if you listen to people who know him well that is his number one trait. personal loyalty. susan: we have a great photograph of ross perot with actor richard crenna who played him in the movie.
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it was shown on network television. at the beginning of 1992, set the stage for us about the george bush candidacy and his bid for reelection. brinkley: george bush 41 as he is now called had a very impressive record in foreign affairs. he oversaw the berlin wall coming down. the apprehension of noriega in panama. the breakup of the soviet union and the cold war. and in 1991 gulf war, which most people thought was a great success. ousting saddam hussein from kuwait.
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the economy was stagnant. pat buchanan was going after president bush for having a silver spoon in his mouth and being elitist and out of touch. it was a populist revolt within the republican party. he had another insurgent jerry brown coming in to try to and you have the new democrat bill clinton and george bush and suddenly ross perot is on larry king on cnn and he says i am going to run as an independent if i can be on the ballot in all 50 states. if drafted. i'm not going to out to run the typical campaign. if the people want my ideas about balancing the budget and stopping the outsourcing of jobs. he said special forces should have gone in and killed saddam hussein. he started soaring in the polls and became the darling of the spring of 1992. host: let's show that larry king live.
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the february 20th 1992 interview where ross perot announces his willingness to run. 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.
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i want you in the ring.
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nothing much came of that, and a man in talking to tennessee and another one in florida who were activists inclined to draft him to run. john j hooker was sort of a flamboyant businessman who kept calling him and talking to him and tried to get him to run. they got to the point where he was seeing where should i announce. he gave them some traditional sources. new york times, l.a. times, wall street journal. he went on larry king live. he enjoyed going on talk shows where he could talk and get his message out. john sigenthaler of the tennessean, the editor and publisher there, called larry
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king live and i'm not sure whether he set up or just all the best question. perot said that he was going on larry king live to talk about the economy. he made an impulsive statement and he never thought would go anywhere. but he had just 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 and a man down there and check was trying to do a draft campaign. there were signs of draft perot. he was curious about it. how do you get on 50 ballots? he asked some of his staff people to do some research about how to get on the ballot. it had been in his head for a long while.
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i think he'd been thinking about it for a good while. susan: his challenge to his supporters to get on that ballot and 50 states. that became the subject of carolyn's book. which is all about the people that followed ross perot and how they were galvanized to move outside of the conventional two party system. to support issues. two more clips. they give you a sense of the flavor of ross perot was very critical of president bush, his prosecution of the first gulf war. we will hear about that in an interview he gave to c-span in
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march 1982. also in the spring of 1992, you will hear a clip from the very well-known texas journalist molly ivins who is now dead. she was asked to talk about this texas politician that she knew so well. ross perot: they should understand why we went to war. it was four months before the white house could figure out why were doing it. they talked about jobs, they talked about oil. finally they got together and said we had to get rid of nuclear chemical and bacteriological weapons in iraq. but guess what we still got? nuclear chemical and bacteriological weapons with saddam hussein. if i come to your door and say can i have your son for the middle east? back, you would probably hit me right in the mouth. >> i was writing about that
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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]
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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.
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host: this is the contenders focusing on the campaign of ross perot in 1992 and 1996. douglas brinkley is here in washington dc. he is a presidential historian and biographer. carolyn barta is a texas journalist who wrote a book about the perot campaign and the perotistas who supported him. ralph is watching. ralph: did he pass on distinguishing himself from his two rivals who were heavily compromised in the war on drugs by not calling for a roadmap to peace on drugs? successful contenders like fdr used medical cocaine. others have used medical opium such as benjamin franklin and jfk used drugs. washington and jefferson and lincoln used medical marijuana. each of our last three successful contenders used both grass and cocaine recreationally as well as medically.
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douglas brinkley: what we're really getting at is the so-called war on drugs in the 1980's in the united states. all these urban centers saw a whole generation of kids were getting addicted to different types of narcotics. ross perot saw that his whole life. working for public schools in particular and there were public schools, the drug gangs.
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because of that, i believe dr pepper and a few corporations decided to move here as well. where i a huge impact live, and i thank him for that. about his choice for vice president. how did that come about? i just wanted to ask what was the decision and thinking about
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selecting him? admiral stockdale is one of the greatest americans who ever lived. he's one of the most decorated naval officers in u.s. history and of course he had been a pow 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. he thought this was the type of person we needed in government. he chose him as his vice president which is an
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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 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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 doom 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
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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
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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.
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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,
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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. 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
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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
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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
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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.
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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. 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. what 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
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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
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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. 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.
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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
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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
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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
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gangrene. here we are. 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
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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. in the interest of time, can you briefly tell that story or what his accusations were?
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>> 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.
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>> 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. he was really trying to create a centrist movement. that is why he hired ed rollins 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
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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. 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
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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.
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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. 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.
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what makes him a more complex and different centrist figure, how are we going to make up that money?
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he says, ross perot, let's tax gasoline. let's put 10 cents a gallon for five years, raise billions to vh
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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 ae talk n
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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. doe
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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
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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
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make free tv to send to my constituents to elect me the next time. and i'm paying for
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debates. and it made a big difference. i think he only got maybe 8% in 1996. so i think going back to the
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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.
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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 --
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>> 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. >> you know, i really can't say.
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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
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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.
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and then 2000, pat buchanan was the nominee, the presidential nominee for the party. and buchanan was a firebrand wa.
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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
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hear david's comment. >> it's doug brinkley than anybody -- today, we hear
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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,tiog
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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
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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.
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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?
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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.
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he dropped out.
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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
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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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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. song,
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election night, 1992, as he is
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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 you wanted you wanted crazy
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