Texas billionaire Ross Perot, who died Tuesday at the age of 89, might be best remembered for his independent presidential runs. But perhaps less remembered is how he attracted a following to his nontraditional 1992 campaign before the days of the Internet.
Perot leaned heavily on television at every stage of his campaign and even bought 30-minute blocks of time for what were essentially political infomercials.
Except for the cash needed to buy the airtime, the commercials were low-budget, featuring Perot seated at a desk, speaking directly to the camera, and occasionally displaying cardboard charts. One series included an interviewer who quizzed Perot with friendly questions on his background.
“As with so many aspects of his campaign, Mr. Perot’s 30-minute commercials seem to defy decades’ worth of political experience,” the New York Times wrote of Perot’s infomercials at the time, as it reported that 16.5 million people tuned in for the first program in October 1992.
See some of the infomercials below.
Balancing the budget and reforming government
A conversation with Ross Perot: Part I
A conversation with Ross Perot: Part II, Business success and leadership
Plain talk about jobs, debt, and the Washington mess