Perot’s 1992 Presidential Run is What Most Will Remember Him For
Before Bill Gates, before Steve Jobs, there was H. Ross Perot, the man and self-made billionaire who twice ran for the nations highest office and was the founder of two technology firms. Perot died in Dallas Tuesday at the age of 89. Dallas area media are reporting that Perot died following a months long battle with leukemia.
Perot founded Electronic Data Systems Corporation in 1962 and Perot Systems Corporation in 1988. But what most American’s will always remember him for is his 1992 run for the Presidency. His opponents were incumbent Republican George H. W. Bush and Democrat and two-time Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.
I’ve long held that, while Mr. Perot’s bid for the Presidency was sincere and his love for this country genuine, he unwittingly gave us the Clinton Presidency. So many Republican’s I knew at the time had lost faith and confidence in President Bush and saw Perot as the most viable alternative.
While the math tends to show that Bush still would have lost to Clinton without Perot in the race, I can’t help but believe that, without Perot in the mix, the Gennifer Flowers sex scandal might have taken a more center stage position in the media and helped derail the Clinton campaign. Flowers was big news, but Perot was, in the minds that mattered at the time, even bigger than Clintons lecherous behaviors. Clinton denied the affair, the media decided Flowers wasn’t credible and the rest is history.
One of the most memorable moments of the 1992 debates was Perot describing “the great sucking sound” of jobs being sucked out of the United States and into Mexico, thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Perot argued the huge disparity in wages was forcing American manufacturing overseas. Both Clinton and Bush were supporters of NAFTA.
Before President Donald Trump was sounding the call of ‘America first’ and promising to reverse long upside-down trade agreements, Perot was sounding the alarm. Republicans and Democrats alike made light of Perot’s criticisms, but in the years after the treaty was enacted, Perot was ultimately proven correct. America’s trade deficit with Mexico swelled, a million jobs were lost in the U.S. and the percentage of lost manufacturing swelled to double digits.
Like Trump, Perot was not at all afraid to say exactly what he was thinking. He once described the national debt as being “like the crazy aunt we keep down in the basement. The neighbors all know she’s there, but no one wants to talk about her.” During Perot’s 1992 Presidential run, the debt sat at around $5 trillion. As of July 9, it sits at nearly $22.5 trillion.
Perot went on to form the Reform Party of the United States of America in 1995 and as a Reform Party candidate in 1996 against Republican Bob Dole and incumbent Bill Clinton. He finished in third place with 8 percent of the vote.