Perot Claims He Can’t Be A Spoiler - ‘It Was Already Spoiled’
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Dallas billionaire Ross Perot said today he cannot play a spoiler role in the presidential race because ″it was already spoiled when I started″ and suggested his political critics are out to destroy him.
″You know the game you all play up there,″ Perot said on NBC’s ″Today″ show. ″You know the game politicians play, particularly Republicans, and that is if somebody shows up who is just a good, decent hardworking man with the finest family in the world, step one is that you have to try to destroy him.″
Perot renewed the complaint that the portrait of him emerging in his independent presidential race has been distorted. It was similar to the charge he made before he dropped out of presidential contention in July.
″If anybody will look at everything that is written and said about me, and a lot has been said about me over the years, and then by May or June, after the dirty tricks guys have done their work, suddenly I’m a whole new personality,″ Perot said.
Perot sharply denied that he could play the role of a spoiler, unable to win the White House himself but capable of denying it to either President Bush or Democrat Bill Clinton.
″There’s no way I can be a spoiler,″ he said. ″It was already spoiled when I started. We had a $4 trillion debt. We had a $400 billion deficit this year. We’ve got the most violent, crime-ridden society in the industrialized world, the worst public schools.″
″We’ve got hundreds of thousands of people out of work. We’ve got 5 percent of the world’s population and 50 percent of the world’s cocaine use. I’m here as a cleanup man. I’m just a guy showing up with a shovel and a broom.″
Perot urged viewers to see a 30-minute television program set to air Tuesday night just before the baseball playoffs. He said it would diagnose the problems afflicting the nation’s sluggish economy. ″I put it together personally,″ he said. ″I wrote the script and drew the charts.″
He said he would have another 30-minute program on national television on Friday night. But he said he has no plans at present to air short spot ad similar to those produced by the Bush and Clinton campaigns.
″I’m looking at some of the attack ads now,″ he said. ″I find them unimpressive. The American people are sick of those things ... We need to talk about solutions, not trying to destroy another human being.″
Perot dismissed criticism of him from some of his former campaign associates. He said he had spent only about two hours with Republican political consultant Ed Rollins, a former White House political director who quit Perot’s staff just before the Texas business executive shelved his effort in July. ″I had almost no contact with him,″ Perot said.
He said associates of Rollins understand ″his strengths and weaknesses - I won’t enumerate them here.″
Perot was also asked about the defection to the Clinton camp of John P. White, an architect of Perot’s economic plan.
″I don’t know what John White’s plans are today,″ Perot said. ″I do know that according to John, who has called me several times to apologize, that the positions he is taking are completely misconstrued by the press. I’m not there when he takes them. All I know is he’s a good man. He did a good job for me. And there we are.″
White, an Eastman Kodak Co. executive based in Rochester, N.Y., and a former Jimmy Carter administration official, told the Gannett Rochester Newspapers on Sunday he now supports Clinton. He said he met with Perot last week and sought to discourage him from reentering the presidential race.
White said he believes Perot could have done more to further his economic views by staying out of the presidential race.
In the NBC interview, Perot also was asked about San Francisco adman Hal Riney, who was brought into the campaign by Rollins and has since been critical of Perot. He said he had two ″very pleasant, constructive, creative meetings″ with Riney.
″Now everyone can have 15 minutes of fame at my expense,″ Perot added.