Perot hints that he may rejoin presidential race

MAYBE it's a yearning for redemption, or perhaps just an insatiable craving for the limelight. Maybe he genuinely believes he is the down-home Messiah to save his nation and above all its finances. Whatever the case, Ross Perot is back on the edge of the presidential campaign, spewing out homilies as if the fiasco of last July had never happened.

Via asides from prominent backers, in appearances on breakfast television shows, and, most tantalisingly of all, in an interview this week with the Los Angeles Times, the man who briefly threatened the strongest independent challenge for the White House in 80 years is hinting anew that, yes, just possibly, he might re-enter a race he never truly joined.

After the humiliation of two months ago, when his quasi-candidacy disintegrated amid squabbling aides and relentless press examination of his business record, the billionaire tycoon from Texarkana has not the slightest chance of winning the election.

But, he calculates, he still has the capacity to influence its outcome.

His perceived lever is the ever-explosive issue of the budget deficit and the failure of both President Bush and Bill Clinton to address it seriously.

Polls continue to suggest that up to a fifth of likely voters are tempted to support Mr Perot. United We Stand, the paperback setting out his blueprint of how to put the country to rights, currently tops the US best-seller lists. Right behind it in second place, incidentally, is another volume entitled America, What Went Wrong. Of the anxious mood of the country, there is no doubt.

'If all his campaign directors in the states ask him, he'll run,' insists Joan Vinson-Stalling, in charge of the Perot operation in Maryland. 'The latent support is there. But after the disappointment caused by his abrupt withdrawal, he'll have to make a real effort to reach out and get it.'

Thus far, Mr Perot has not done so: 'I am not a candidate,' he told ABC television the other day. Today, however, Arizona is due to become the 50th and last state to put him on the November ballot. At that point some further word is expected on his intentions. Nor has it escaped notice that, despite suggestions by various state authorities that he withdraw his name from their ballots, he has steadfastly refused to do so.

Skeleton teams still function across the country, kept alive by dollars 500,000 (pounds 282,000) a month out of Mr Perot's pocket. In honour of the book, the former 'Perot for President' campaign has been rechristened 'United We Stand America'. In his conversation with the Los Angeles Times the erstwhile quasi-candidate gave the plainest hint yet that some call may come. It was 'unrealistic' for the two candidates to ignore the deficit issue. If they persisted in doing so, he would re-enter the fray.

After what happened in July, a full- scale effort is unimaginable. Once burned, Mr Perot cannot and will not rebuild a full-scale staff, nor expose himself to fresh media scrutiny. The lurid 'kiss and tell' stories now appearing in magazines such as Vanity Fair are warning enough. Instead he will position himself loftily above the hurly-burly, portraying himself as the disinterested saviour of his nation.

If he does, then the potential for mischief-making exists. The Bush camp is terrified of a Perot deal with Mr Clinton in the last weeks of the campaign, tantamount to an endorsement and predicated on a promise to tackle the deficit. The Clinton campaign is edgy, too: every sign is that if a neutral Mr Perot did mobilise his former supporters, their man would suffer disproportionately.

US history teaches that independent candidacies tend to shrivel as election day approaches. But if this contest tightens, even 3 per cent or 4 per cent in a few key states could make the difference. Perot the spoiler could have a big impact in Texas, where a putative three-way race would right now be a statistical dead heat, in California and elsewhere in the Midwest and West.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
Sport
SPORT
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Biggins as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan
theatreHow do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick