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Politics & Government

Is Donald Trump the New Ross Perot?

The Wall Street Journal draws a parallel.
By Jason Heid |
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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