Political News

#TBT: Unconventional billionaire shakes up 1992 election

Posted July 13

President Donald Trump was not the first candidate to put huge sums of money into his own presidential campaign and leave a lasting mark on campaign history. He didn't become president like Trump, but Texas billionaire Ross Perot's 1992 independent presidential campaign was just as fascinating and also made-for-TV. In a word, it was bonkers.

Trump and Perot entered their respective races very differently. Trump had his famous escalator Trump Tower. Perot had CNN's Larry King Live. Perot didn't actually announce that he was running but said he'd run if supporters would get his name on the ballot in all 50 states. He, like Trump after him, said he had money to fund his own campaign and shunned the political establishment. Perot spent $64 million on his campaign in '92. Trump spent $66 million on his campaign 24 years later.

You can watch part of his three-minute long non-answer regarding his candidacy in the Instagram video above. Things only got more interesting from there.

Perot quit the race in July, eventually saying that Republicans had been plotting to ruin his daughter's wedding, which occurred that August. While he was temporarily on the sidelines, Perot met his 50-state ballot threshold. He reentered the race in October.

It gets better. After rejoining the race, Perot aired a series of 30-minute TV commercials. According to Nielsen ratings, millions tuned in to see the candidate who campaigned in person in fewer than 20 states. Perot isn't the only candidate to use the extended campaign ad method - then-candidate Barack Obama aired his own 30-minute ad in 2008, proving that the '90s have been staging a comeback for years.

Come Election Day, Perot received more than 19 million votes. Not enough to win him the presidency, but more than enough to make him a legendary independent candidate and arguably help Bill Clinton defeat George H.W. Bush.

To relive more moments from the 1990s, tune into CNN's original series, "The Nineties," on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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