Is Donald Trump the New Ross Perot?

The Wall Street Journal draws a parallel.

Trump and Perot (Photos: Wikimedia Commons)
Trump this year and Perot in the ’90s (Photos: Wikimedia Commons)

The Wall Street Journal’s professional opiners express fears that bloviating billionaire Donald Trump could — if he loses out on the GOP nomination for president — run a third-party campaign that makes it tough for the Republicans to win in 2016.

And that’s not the only parallel they draw between Trump now and Ross Perot’s 1992 campaign:

Like Trump, Perot was a businessman turned amateur politician who capitalized on voter dissatisfaction with the professionals. He was ideologically heterodox.

Like Trump, he had an admirer in Kevin Phillips, who in 1993 told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “He surged in the polls in his role as national watchdog.” After the election, Perot’s opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement put him at odds with the Clinton administration, though these days it would find him a home on the Democratic left.

Perot was known for rhetorical intemperance. “James Ragland, a former city hall reporter with the Dallas Morning News now with The Washington Post, recalls being at a meeting with Dallas police officers at which Perot suggested the police ‘ought to just go in there [high-crime neighborhoods], cordon off the whole area, going block by block, looking for guns and drugs,’ ” the Post’s Michael Isikoffreported in 1992. That’s somewhat reminiscent of Trump’s recent harangue about illegal aliens from Mexico—though we should note that in the 1993 Nafta debate with Al Gore, Perot was careful to praise the skill and industriousness of Mexican workers.


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  • Mavdog

    In terms of a politician attempting to tap into the electorate’s frustration with the status quo in Washington, yes it may be a fair comparison.

    In terms of the individuals themselves, they are worlds apart. A silver spoon narcissist (Trump) who is focused on self promotion and doesn’t listen to anyone else because he believes he knows it all contrasted with a person who made his own fortune (Perot) with a focus on teamwork, giving credit to others and seeking input from those he respected to determine the best strategy.

    Oh, and I believe Perot ran because he felt a patriotic need, while Trump is running solely for his ego.

    • DubiousBrother

      A closer look at Perot’s fortune would show that he made it off of huge government contracts often with no opposing bids. His family trust is located in Bermuda.

      • Mavdog

        government contracts, insurance contracts, bank contracts.

        all due to seeing the emergence of data and its role in business and commerce. not from being handed a big wad of capital by his daddy. not by going into BK multiple times and stiffing his creditors either.

        Bermuda? who cares.

  • PT Moore

    First of all Perot spend millions of his own money trying to help our POWs during the Vietnam War and was himself a veteran. He was brave enough and resourceful enough to free his own employees from an Iranian prison. That included actually going to Iran. I agree with Mavdog. Comparing Perot to Trump is an insult to Perot. I agree on the third party issue but don’t think Trump is worthy of shining Perot’s shoes.

  • GlennHunter

    He might be, Jason. Yes, Trump is crude, brash, rash, thin-skinned, egocentric, etc. etc. But his straight-talk style is striking a chord after we’ve listened to the White House stress for seven years how backward and racist the country is. In my humble opinion he represents a sort of populist push back against the professional political/media/academic elites, who really aren’t happy unless they’re outlining the terms of the debate. (I think Bernie Sanders is also part of this push back, though at the other end of the spectrum.) Meantime it is tremendously entertaining to see Trump give no quarter while everyone from the Morning News to the Des Moines paper to the Wall Street Journal insists that he must leave the presidential race, and right now! It may not last–in fact the elites all are predicting that it won’t—but who knows? For now Trump is helping to shake up a system that needs to be shaken up.

    • Mavdog

      What is really humorous is reading that Trump is not a member of the “elites”.

      Nobody in the Presidential contest has benefitted more from being born into the “elites” than Donald Trump. Well, maybe Jeb, but Jeb did go out on his own in Florida. But Trump is as elitist as it comes.

    • TheLoneRanger

      How can you possibly think so clearly, write so well, be a moderator and only have twelve comments? I want more! Please tell me you have more.

  • OldLakeHighlandeer

    Republicans, 2011: Let’s nominate an elitist prick that we would all dream of shotgunning to death if he were my boss. Obama wins decisively.

    Republicans 2015: Romney was not “pure” enough. Let’s nominate an even more elitist prick that is also a psychopathic narcissist that would inflict pain and suffering on every neuron in our cranium if we actually had to work for him. Now THAT is a winning combination.

    The definition of Madness is doing the exact same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and expecting a different result. To the deluded GH’s of the world– you get what you deserve.

    • DubiousBrother

      This may give you a little insight as to why the leftist MSM shoved McCain down our throats in 2011 knowing full well that he would not rock the boat too much lest they unleash the truth:

      • Mavdog

        “This may give you a little insight as to why the leftist MSM shoved McCain down our throats in 2011”

        wow, I had no idea that the Republican rank and file were manipulated so easily, as if they didn’t have a mind of their own.

        who would have guessed?

  • Ron Jeffry

    he’s not. Trump is trying to run to the far-right with regards to his platform. Perot was center left:

    Perot did not elect Clinton, but helped Bush not get killed in a landslide. Bush Sr. in 1992 had Jimmy Carter’s approvals in 1980:

    Even when Perot was gone, Clinton was smoking Bush and Bush still polling high 30s and lower 40s.

    If Trump hurts the GOP candidate, he’s not Perot, he’s Nader in reverse. Nader and Trump are ideologues, Perot was a centrist. The exit polls from 1992, the only possible way to measure the ultimate effect, shows Perot changed nothing:

  • stew redmen

    lol, ross perot was right back then, al gore screwed us with NAFTA, perot told american’s how it would hurt our country, now trump is suppose to look bad because “he’s the new perot”? lol, wtf
    that’s a compliment.