It all started with an interview on the Larry King cable talk show back in Feb. 1992.
Texas businessman H. Ross Perot, founder of Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and Perot Systems (both of which he later sold to GM and Dell, respectively), was speaking out about America’s financial problems.
“Is there any scenario for which you would run for President,” CNN host Larry King famously tried to pin down Perot. “Can you give me a scenario in which you’d say, ‘OK, I’m in?”
With little hesitation, Perot fired back in his quirky southern drawl.
“Number one, I don’t want to,” Perot said. “Number two, if you’re that serious, you register me in 50 states. And if you’re not willing to organize and do that, this is all just talk.
“If you’re dead serious, I want to see some sweat. Why do I want to see some sweat? I want you in the ring.”
With that national challenge, grassroots volunteers all across America worked tirelessly to get Perot on the ballot as a Presidential candidate in 1992. An oft-forgotten footnote about the effort was that Perot dropped out of the race that summer, blaming the media’s obsession with his family, invasion of their privacy and “the Republican dirty tricks” campaign.
In effect, Perot ran twice that year — re-entering the race as a long-shot candidate on October 1.
Now, exactly twenty years later, the brutally honest businessman is once again sounding the call of America’s “economic cancer” — a national debt that was about $5 trillion in 1992 but has grown in excess of $16 trillion in 2012 — in the run-up to the publication of his autobiography.
Older, grayer and a little slower, Perot — in a rare interview with USA Today’s Richard Wolf and recorded by C-Span — wastes little time zinging politicians on both sides of the aisle for the country’s fiscal mess.
“Every generation through our history has worked and sacrificed to leave a better America to their children and grandchildren and future generations,” Perot said. “We were then spending their money, and we are now, even more, much more, spending their money and we are leaving them a mess that will be very difficult to deal with.
Perot went on to warn that America’s fiscal weakness could make her a target to be taken over by another country.
“The last thing I ever want to see is to see our country taken over because we are so financially weak that we can’t do anything,” Perot said. “And we’re moving in that direction. We’re on the edge of the cliff.”
WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW FROM C-SPAN:
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