The US Presidential Elections: 'Inspector Perot' fails to prove his case - World - News - The Independent

The US Presidential Elections: 'Inspector Perot' fails to prove his case

SEQUELS, whether in movies or politics, rarely match up to the original. But Ross Perot, for a day or two at least, is having a pretty good shot at it. Just like last summer, however, what could have been the most serious independent bid for the White House this century threatens to dissolve into another 'Inspector Perot' spectacular.

A week before polling, the entire dynamic of a presidential election is on the brink of being upset by Mr Perot's eleventh-hour surge in the polls. Yesterday though, such weighty considerations were abruptly secondary, as the conspiracy theorist from Dallas indulged his pastime of predilection: accusing the Republican 'dirty tricks' brigade of seeking to sabotage his campaign by the foulest means to hand.

The show began in earnest at the weekend, when Mr Perot explained to an astonished country his real reason for withdrawing from the contest in July. He said that he believed the Republicans were plotting to bug his office, and to disrupt his daughter's wedding the following month. But as before, not a shred of evidence was forthcoming, just the word of 'three or four' informants of whom the only one he identified was one Scott Barnes, a former California police officer and a notorious peddler of bizarre plot scenarios.

Yesterday brought Episode Two: an hour-long news briefing at his Dallas headquarters at which Mr Perot vainly tried to shift his campaign, as he is fond of saying, 'back to the issues'. Not so, however. Almost every question was about the dirty tricks, to which the irascible billionaire responded with no fresh evidence, but the now familiar tirade against the press.

At first he seemed to climb down, accepting the Bush camp's dismissal of the allegations as 'preposterous'. But newshounds had scented blood and for the umpteenth time since Mr Perot re-entered the presidential race four weeks ago, his contempt for the fourth estate boiled over. 'I don't have to prove anything to you people,' he exploded at one point. 'You just tweedle dee and tweedle dum as you wish, it's your business.'

Irrelevant it may be, but the episode could well prove fatal for the credibility of his revived candidacy. Mr Perot's snappy performance in the three presidential debates, followed by a media blitz, of which America has never seen the like, made him a factor with which the main party candidates have been struggling to come to grips. So far, Governor Clinton and President Bush have handled him with kid gloves, for fear that too frontal an attack would merely drive voters weary of 'politics-as- usual' into his arms, only reinforcing a trend they are trying to prevent. Mr Perot has benefited from a virtual free ride.

But these latest sensations can only rekindle the old doubts, that he is a man obsessed by conspiracies and is temperamentally unfit to enter the White House. That plainly is the hope of the Democrat, who has suffered most from the Perot renaisssance. 'Strange' was the adjective Mr Clinton carefully chose yesterday, to describe the tales of buggings, assassination attempts, faked computer photographs and the like pouring out of Dallas.

But more neutral observers of the proceedings also reckon that the 'dirty tricks' distraction now makes it more likely that the 'wasted vote' argument on which earlier independent presidential campaigns have invariably foundered, will again emerge to destroy Mr Perot as well. This time, however, there is one wild card: Mr Perot's money.

By most calculations, the Texan's level of support of about 20 per cent is unlikely to greatly affect the final result. Should it rise to 25 per cent or beyond, however, all bets will be off. And if that does happen, the colossally expensive television blitz now in progress will primarily have been responsible.

Night after night, one or other network carries a primetime 'info-mercial' selling one or other aspect of the Perot package: there have been six so far, dealing with his views of the country's problems, next, his solution to the above, then - on three separate occasions - a presentation of his family, as well as glowing testimony from individuals whom the billionaire has gone out of his way to help.

Last night, ABC was the fortunate beneficiary of the Perot largesse, airing a full hour 'info- mercial' on what campaign staff bill as 'The Ross Perot nobody knows'. The cost is a cool dollars 940,000 ( pounds 584,000). And thus it will continue, right up to the end of the campaign. 'On election eve, I'll be on all three networks talking to you,' he told supporters at the weekend. But after the latest events, fewer may be disposed to listen.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
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

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week