WASHINGTON: Ross Perot Jr., former presidential candidate Ross Perot’s son, has contributed the maximum amount allowed to President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. The elder Perot’s populist campaigns in 1992 and 1996 are often credited to creating a path toward the 2016 election victory of Donald Trump.
Records from the Federal Election Commission specifically show that on March 19 of this year, Perot Jr. wrote two $2,800 checks to Trump’s campaign — one for a potential 2020 primary election and one for the 2020 general election.
Ross Perot Sr., who ran for president as a third-party candidate died Tuesday at age 89.
Like Trump, Perot ran as a billionaire populist against the Republican establishment.
His focus on the North American Free Trade Agreement – rather than the national debt – and his use of cable news for laying out his agenda are familiar elements of Trump’s campaign.
Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh says of Trump – Perot:
“But he was brilliant. I mean, he had the same ability as Trump to reach people.
He’s one of the few, he likewise, like Trump, had established a genuine bond. Yeah, my nickname for him was priceless. “Little hand grenade with a bad haircut,” is what I called him. Little hand grenade with a haircut. At any rate, he had the bond with voters back then that Trump has. He came to the public eye via C-SPAN. Remember at the time CNN is it. There is no blogosphere yet. There is no mass number of websites. Those are just building out.
There really wasn’t a huge talk radio apparatus out there yet. It was still basically this show and a couple of others. But there was no alternative media. Perot got noticed on C-SPAN by making speeches all over the country to various economic clubs. And back then, you watched C-SPAN if you were a political junkie. That’s where you had to go if you were interested. What you watch Fox News for today or CNN or whatever, C-SPAN is what you watched back then.”
If Perot had had access to social media, particularly Twitter, to explain his policies directly to the people instead of fighting for attention from the news shows, he might have won. Many people believe that had Perot stayed in the fight, he would have won.
What Perot did have was infomercials. Thirty-minutes on TV in which he explained his policies:
As Democratic strategist James Carville said in a 2016 podcast:
“If Donald Trump is the Jesus of the disenchanted, displaced non-college white voter, then Perot was the John the Baptist of that sort of movement.”
Playing with the idea of running for President in 2000, Trump thought of joining Perot’s Reform Party. Perot’s failure to win as a third-party candidate in a two-party political system taught Trump that he needed to align himself with the Republicans in 2016.
James Pindell’s op-ed in Tuesday’s Boston Globe went so far as to suggest that Perot was a direct precursor to Trump. (How Ross Perot paved the way for Donald Trump (paywall))
“Perot not only showed Trump how to run as a populist for president but also how to use cable news to build a brand, frame a nationalist agenda around opposing free trade, and, yes, how to use Mexico as a political foil,” he opined. “Politics is a process. There would be no LBJ without FDR. There wouldn’t be a Reagan revolution without Barry Goldwater. And it’s possible there wouldn’t be a Trump presidency without Perot.”
And just as with Trump, everybody thought Perot and his policy proposals were crazy. Yet virtually every single one of his predictions and warnings turned out to be right (Tweets collated by BPR):
Ross Perot was a champion for veterans’ rights and ahead of his time on disastrous trade policies. During his campaign, he explained, in depth, how he would address our national problems and spurred serious discussion. Ross Perot was a one-of-a kind American. He will be missed. pic.twitter.com/qXukirfwcL
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) July 9, 2019
If you can not look at the 25 yrs
of evidence how NAFTA destroyed
American manufacturing, you
are an imbecile
Ross Perot was correct, the
Chamber of Commerce, GOP,
DNC don’t give one rats ass about
Trump was and is right !
— Franz (@Diabloojosazule) July 10, 2019
— Tim Xeriland (@Xeriland) July 9, 2019
God bless him. The first chance I had when I was 18 I voted for Ross Perot. Very proudly. Not only was he someone that cared about this country. But he was the first one that brought up the fact that NAFTA would destroy our country. He was right about so many things. God bless
— Starlie R Wagoner#shut the media down (@rstarlie44) July 10, 2019
Perot dropping out of the 1992 race:
For reasons unclear to this day, despite polling at 38 percent, Perot dropped out of the ’92 Presidential race. By the time he re-entered the race months later, his support had reportedly dropped by double digits and Bill Clinton won the Presidency.
To this day, some still wonder what would have happened had he not dropped out:
In June 1992, Ross Perot was polling at 39%, ahead of both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in a 3-way race. He dropped out suddenly in July, re-entered Oct. 1, and still got 18.9% of the popular vote Nov. 3. How would he have done if he had not dropped out for 2.5 months? 🤔❓ pic.twitter.com/feRuHxRo2M
— Andy Bass (@AndyBassNY) July 9, 2019
One could argue that, in many respects, the current president is the manifestation of everything Perot could have been had he remained in the race and ultimately won the election.
Ross Perot – A life well lived
Before Trump, Ross Perot was critical of the swamp, wanting to be the one to drain it. In 1992, he said of DC that it:
“has become a town with sound bites, shell games, handlers, media stuntmen who posture, create images, talk, shoot off Roman candles, but don’t ever accomplish anything. We need deeds, not words, in this city.”
As to NAFTA, Perot said:
“We do the world’s dumbest trade agreements,” he said in a televised, post-election debate in 1993 against then-Vice President Al Gore. “You go back to the agreements we’ve done all over the world, you’d be amazed that adults did them.”
Perot’s path to running for president was far different from Trump’s, however. Born to a family of relatively modest means in Texarkana, Texas, Perot was a young entrepreneur. He first sold garden seeds door-to-door at age 7, then built a successful newspaper route in the poor part of town. Perot later entered the military, graduating from the Naval Academy in 1953 and serving aboard an aircraft carrier and destroyer.
Back in civilian life, Perot became a top salesman for IBM in Dallas. When the company showed little interest in his ideas, he left and founded Electronic Data Systems in 1962. EDS, which pioneered computer services to businesses and government, made Perot a billionaire.