In Big Ways, Ross Perot Was Ahead of His Time

His 1992 campaign was a game-changer
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2019 4:28 PM CDT
In Big Ways, Ross Perot Was Ahead of His Time
This May 5, 1992, photo shows Texas billionaire Ross Perot laughing after saying "Watch my lips," in response to reporters asking when he plans to formally enter the presidential race.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew. File)

The death of Ross Perot at age 89 is prompting lots of assessments about the remarkable life of the tycoon-turned-politician. Perot arguably changed history with his record-setting performance in the 1992 election, when he won more than 19 million votes as an independent. George HW Bush, for one, thought he would have won re-election had Perot not come along, Chris Wallace of Fox News said on the network Tuesday, per WSCI. At CNN, Princeton history professor Julian Zelizer writes that Perot's embrace back then of the burgeoning cable TV showed the way for future campaigns. Take his then-famous 30-minute infomercials on policy, for example.

"Perot understood that in the cable television era, presidential candidates had the opportunity to take their case directly to the people and didn't even have to suffer through the filter of journalists anymore," writes Zelizer. Today, President Trump employs much the same tactic through his Twitter feed. "We are currently living deep in the world that Perot helped create." Sure, he lost in 1992 and again in 1996, but "sometimes the losers in presidential politics still have an immense impact on the way that we conduct our democracy," writes Zelizer. (More Ross Perot stories.)

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