Why Ross Perot is made for the 2012 race

at 10:55 AM ET, 07/21/2012

Remember Ross Perot?


Texas billionaire Ross Perot laughs after saying "Watch my lips," in response to reporters asking when he plans to formally enter the Presidential race. Questions came May 5, 1992 in New York City where Perot was speaking before the American Newspapers Publishers Association. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
The Texas billionaire, who ran twice for president in the 1990s, has the distinction of being the last third party candidate to become a major factor in a national race. (Perot took 19 percent nationwide in 1992.)

While Perot was a major political story twenty years ago, a look at the political landscape in 2012 suggests the Texan might well have been a man ahead of his time.

Perot’s laser focus on debt and spending issues — not to mention his outsider persona — is a perfect fit for an American electorate sick of the two major parties and increasingly concerned about the country’s red ink.

In a piece for the Outlook section, we argue why Perot is even more relevant in 2012 than he was in 1992. Here’s the gist of our argument:

Go back and watch the 30-minute infomercials  — funded by his massive wealth and, even then, a decidedly unorthodox strategy in a world of 30-second ads — he ran during the campaign, and you begin to see just how perfectly Perot would fit into our current political environment.
In one infomercial titled, yes, “Chicken Feathers, Deep Voodoo and the American Dream,” Perot uses a series of charts to highlight the ballooning federal debt ($4.1 trillion!), saying: “This is a huge burden for us to bear . . . we can’t pass it on to our children.”
In a more traditional — although that word and Perot don’t really go together — campaign ad, a narrator warned of a new war in which “the enemy is not the red flag of communism but the red ink of our national debt, the red tape of our government bureaucracy.”
Sound familiar? Today it’s de rigueur for politicians in both parties to speak in ominous terms about the danger of the debt, in an unwitting homage to Perot. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), long considered a potential 2012 presidential candidate, gave a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2011 in which he referred to the nation’s debt problem as the “new red menace .” No word on whether Perot got royalties.

 
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