Ross Perot, Reform Party Presidential Candidate
Delivers Remarks At The National Press Club
October 24, 1996
PEROT: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. I'm glad to be with you.
Thank you very much. Great to be with you.
Well, nothing much changes. There's good news. I still don't charge for speaking. And the bad news is I still write my speeches.
That'll be painfully obvious to you pretty soon.
It's great to be with you again.
I want you to all understand, I love this great country. I love the people in this country. I love the principles on which this great country was founded. And I don't like to see those principles violated. And believe me, they are being grossly violated at this point in our country's history by the people at the highest levels in our government.
I never thought I would live to see a major drug dealer give 20,000 bucks in Florida and then be invited to a big Democratic reception by the vice president of the United States, Al Gore, and then be invited to the White House for a reception.
Now, keep in mind, you can't get into the White House unless the Secret Service clears you. This guy had been convicted, arrested twice in the '80s, it's in the computer. Forrest Gump on the Secret Service, and they don't have one, would have picked that up, right? But every now and then the White House just overrule them, say let them in anyhow.
I promise you that if I am ever your president, drug dealers will not be invited to the White House.
Now, then, right after his trip to the White House, they caught him with 5,828 pounds of cocaine. Don't you think we should set a higher standard? I hope you do.
The White House had to know about the prior arrests. They had to know about his connections to the Cali Cartel. But, hey, this guy gave 20,000 bucks, so let him come on in, right?
The only reason there is a White House is because millions of you pay for it. Keep in mind, the president doesn't pay for the White House, he does not pay rent, you pay for the whole thing.
And I am personally offended that the president is now selling the Lincoln Bedroom to any $100,000-a-night contributor. I think that's absolutely wrong when you think that plumbers, electricians, people working third shift provide that White House for our president, and it should not be for sale for any price.
This guy they just arrested also had ties to Fidel Castro, and I'm sure the Secret Service picked up on that.
Now, here's the next one. The Indonesian connection, which maybe you've read more about than you want to, but I never thought that a family in Indonesia and his wife would be able to give nearly 200,000 bucks to the White House during the president's presidential campaign. The Riady's dad is head of the Asian conglomerate.
And what did they get in return? A man named Huang -- it's spelled H-u-a-n-g but pronounced "Wong" -- was given a position in the Clinton administration overseeing trade policy.
Now, doesn't that make you feel good if you're working second shift in a clothing mill somewhere down South? This guy is influencing trade policy, and where in the world do they abuse child labor more than Indonesia? Nowhere. And if you question it, go there. And if you can't find it, call me and I'll have you taken on a tour.
In addition, this man was given a top secret security clearance.
I can remember when that meant something.
And finally -- only in America -- when he left the Riadys to go to work for the government, he was given a $780,000 departure bonus.
If this doesn't seem corrupt to you, then you and I are on two different planets.
So then he left the government to raise money for the Democratic Party. He raised $250,000 from a Korean corporation. They just took it -- were thrilled to death.
The Los Angeles Times nailed them. They had to give it back.
Now, if I steal your car and give it back, does that make me innocent?
Think about it.
Then -- I love this one...
If you said -- where will politicians go to raise money? I'd have said anywhere. You said -- to a Buddhist temple? I'd said no -- they wouldn't go to a Buddhist temple.
They said -- do you realize these guys were getting several thousand dollars apiece from the nuns in a Buddhist temple? I said -- can't be. Sworn to a life of poverty.
Well, you know the story. Somebody gave it to them. They funneled it through the nuns. They gave it -- Al Gore was just there just to take a look -- he had to take it.
I consider that absolutely morally and ethically wrong and we should stop it. And that's why the core of our policy is campaign finance reform.
Then, Mr. Huang got $427,000 for the Democrats from a gardener.
I'd like to know whose garden he was taking care of -- wouldn't you?
That old song -- "I Didn't Promise You a Rose Garden" -- has a new meaning now.
Think that one through. There is a Rose Garden in the White House, right? OK. Fine.
Now, what did they get in return?
The thing we never say and the thing that I don't think the press does a good job at all on is saying -- what is the payback, folks?
These folks got their trade volume doubled, the trade deficit with the United States has doubled in the past four years.
So there it is, right up on the table -- they've got those children working night and day now making those designer clothes that you and I pay the full price for.
We don't get a bargain. Pay full price. And the jobs used to be here in the USA.
The Clinton administration had threatened trade sanctions against Indonesia because it had gross human rights violations, but after all this money came through -- didn't do a thing about it. That was all forgotten. And the trade deficit with the United States -- our deficit doubled.
And now we have Mr. Gandhi on the scene, and every time I think of Gandhi, I think of a great hero in India.
Well, this is a different Gandhi.
Nobody knows who he is, but he gave them $325,000 to this year's campaign.
I wonder if anybody in this country's giving money any more? Right? Seem like you go overseas because that's where the money is. It makes sense -- that's where the jobs went.
Now Gandhi has no money. So say -- where did Gandhi get the money? From a Japanese World War II war criminal.
Now if there's anybody here that fought in World War II, I'm sure that makes you proud to be an American, right?
Well, that's where he got it.
Now then, it gets better.
This Mr. Gandhi decided to personally award President Clinton the Gandhi Humanitarian Award.
Now, he is not tied to Mahatma Gandhi. His family says there's no tie to the family. He would -- presented the award at the White House.
Now, when you're given this kind of money, I guess you can do whatever you want to. Then we go down to Alfonso Fanjul. He is a Cuban national with a Spanish passport who lives in Florida and has a $500 million sugar empire.
His company gave $244,000 to the Republican Party. He is the vice chairman of the Dole Campaign Finance Committee. He and his family have given another $44,000 to the Republican congressional candidates and $100,000 to both parties all for this election.
He's classic. He doesn't care who wins. He's played the cards on both sides, right?
OK. What did he get in return?
Sugar subsidies, championed by Senator Dole, worth $65 million a year. Say, oh, what the hey, Ross, boys will be boys. That's because you don't think it through. Who buys sugar?
Hard-working people. They're paying a premium for it because of this deal and that is rotten.
That's not bad: that's rotten.
We've been subjected to numerous scandals and criminal investigations involving our president in the past four years. A number of his friends and business associates and a White House staff member had been convicted. We have a special prosecutor still investigating the president and his wife, in terms of any involvement in these matters.
The president has refused to say whether or not he will pardon his friends and business associates who are now in jail after the election. And nobody seems to be upset about that.
Is this what the rights of the president to pardon a convict are all about? Take care of your buddies? And hope they don't talk? Isn't it a sad commentary that this great country is there.
We are headed toward a second Watergate with all this stuff going on and a constitutional crisis in 1997. Just remember where you heard it and put it in the bank.
And for two years, nothing's going to happen while we fool around with this. And the last we need is to lose two more years while our government is frozen because the president is being investigated.
At this critical time the American people want to elect a president who may pardon convicted criminals and who may be forced out of office.
Now, of the next one.
Common Cause. Our nation's most respected citizen's group has called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate criminal charges levied against both parties for criminal misuse of millions of dollars in campaign funds and you and I just kind of sit back and say, "Hey, you know, boys will be boys."
Well, I'm going to show you what this has cost you in just a few minutes.
But right now, let me ask you to think about this as I speak.
Is there no sense of decency left in this country? Is there no sense of outrage left in this country? Have we deteriorated where the weirdest thing that happens is the only thing that's news?
Is there no sense of honor?
Is there no sense of shame left in our great country?
Shouldn't the occupant of the White House set the highest moral and ethical standards for our children as a role model? And certainly have the strongest standards in terms of honesty, loyalty, and trustworthiness? Those used to be traits we look for.
Now, we look for a smooth talker that will tell us what we want to hear. And we are paying a terrible price. Shouldn't we elect a president who will serve the people and not the special interests? Do you want a president who will aggressively prosecute and punish those who commit criminal acts and serve the people?
I would think you would at this critical time. And I pledge to the American people that I will see that stealing the taxpayers' money is stopped. And that those who commit criminal acts are punished, not pardoned. And my philosophy will be -- and particularly to people who have been blessed with good fortune -- if you can't do the time, don't commit the crime.
And just the fact that you're somebody is not a reason to let you off. It's a reason to put underneath the jail. And that sends a message that justice is fair in this country. If you want this corruption stopped, vote for the Reform Party in '96.
And I have a question for the American people. If you love this country and your children, how could you even consider voting for a candidate that has huge moral, ethical, and criminal problems facing him as our country has problems to solve.
And now, let's look at these problems, at this kind of campaign finance and all of the corruption that we have just started to tolerate, and apparently, almost enjoy. Just wondering what more obscene thing can come up. Here's what it's bought us.
Five trillion dollars in debt. You notice neither party discussed the debt in the debates. That is the cancer that can wreck our country. Why won't they discuss it? Because they both created it. Now, neither party takes responsibility. Each party blames the other party. Right?
My philosophy is this. There was nobody else around. I guess they both did it. Can't blame anybody else, just two of them there at the table. We're five trillion dollars in debt. Nobody can understand that. But, we don't have $5 trillion of currency in print. So, if we rounded up all the currency in print, we couldn't pay the debt. And Forrest Gump can understand that.
I find it fascinating that the news media will not focus on these economic issues. And if you listen to them, every American should understand them in plain talk. Seventy percent of our debt is financed short term. That's like financing your house payment month to month. It will break you when interest rates go up.
Seventy percent of five trillion is three and a half trillion.
And every time interest rates go up one percent, the debt will go up $35 billion a year.
PEROT: You said, but, Ross, interest rates are down. That's temporary.
That's because the shell game we've been playing with the debt, the deficit and so on and so forth.
But down is relative. And we also know that interest rates cycle. And when they go up we will pay a terrible price for not financing our debt in a responsible way.
The bad news is -- that in spite of what you heard in the debates, because if you just listen casually in the debates, you'd think they taken care of this, right?
They got plans all set. Don't worry. We're going to balance the budget, take care of the debt. Here are the government's official numbers.
They say the debt will rise from $5 trillion to $8 trillion by the year 2005. Is that what the bridge to the 21st century bought me? Five to eight trillion dollars.
Even worse, the president's Office of Management and Budget forecast that the debt will be growing at the rate of $4.1 trillion a year in the year 2030.
It took us 200 years to accumulate $5 trillion and we're going to be creating four-fifths of that every year by the year 2030 because of our irresponsible spending.
In addition, our government forecasts that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in the year 2030, just those programs will cost $3.9 trillion a year.
And what do the two candidates say, we're going to protect it as you know it. God bless you, we're not going to touch it.
You've got to touch it. I hope -- I dare you to bring these two programs up in the Q&A. We've got to take a look at those.
And just at a glance you'll see why we have to redesign and re- engineer them.
By the year 2050, the Social Security deficit will be $5.5 trillion dollars, according to our government. And the year 2060, our government forecasts that the typical worker will spend 40 percent of his paycheck just for Social Security.
That won't work. We need to start the transition now.
You say, Ross, I'm still not convinced. Then go to page 25. This is the world's best kept secret. If it ever appears on any of your newspapers or on the headlines in the evening news, send me a copy, please.
This is really big news that never gets told. Page 25 of President Clinton's 1995 budget, the president of the United States tells you that the next generation to be born -- any little baby born after 1995, will pay an 82 percent tax rate.
Keep 18 cents out of every dollar they earn. The rest goes to Uncle Sam. That's the end of America. That's the end of the American dream. That's it. Once you know that, you should take action.
We ignore it. Don't print it.
You say, Ross, I'm still not convinced. And I say, man, you are hard to convince. But here is my last shot.
Got to page 18 -- page 18 of the president's 1997 budget and you will find that the president of the United States and our government says, using the accounting formula, assets minus liabilities equal net worth. If I had a newspaper -- God save America, that won't happen -- but if I did, that would be headline. Assets minus liabilities equal net worth. Our government tells you our net worth -- we have a negative net worth of $2.98 trillion.
That's the largest bankruptcy in the history of man and the best kept secret in the history of man. And the thing they didn't tell you is our government left out $17 trillion of unfunded federal guarantees -- unfunded federal guarantees that any publicly owned corporation would have to include as liabilities.
PEROT: So, if you use the standards that they impose on public corporations, it's a $20 trillion negative net worth.
Think of your parents and your grandparents. All my parents ever did was work and sacrifice all their lives for my sister and me. And now we are spending our children's money. And nothing could be more wrong.
And we must stop it. We are approaching the brink of a financial disaster. Everybody says, Ross, how could that sort of thing happen.
Well, let's just use plain language and talk about it.
We've got too much money chasing too few stocks. The stock market's gone up forever. History tells us it will not go up forever. The stock market cycles. That's no problem; just the big shots are going to get killed.
Sorry, folks. Most of that money is pension funds. That's for ordinary folks. Then they have their 401(k) plans. That's for ordinary folks. Then a lot of them have gone into mutual funds because interest rates are so low.
One of the reasons the stock market goes up is because interest rates are so low. And when the meltdown occurs, you say, no problem. The government protects the small investor. The government protects the small investor's bank accounts. The government protects his pension funds.
That's where the $17 trillion in unfunded federal guarantees are. There ain't no money there, folks!
And when this meltdown occurs, the government's weak financial position will be a huge liability, in contrast to the Depression when the financial strength of our government was a positive force in getting us through it.
Now, I'm sure, in spite of all this, a few of yours are saying, Ross, let's give big government a chance. We're right in D.C. This is the home of big government. And I say if big government works, why can't you make this town work.
I'd be embarrassed to live here. If big government is so good, Washington, D.C. should be an alabaster city gleaming, undimmed by human tears. You know the record. OK.
Some say, well, let's give big government a chance. In 1960, we ran our government for $100 billion a year. We now spend three times that much paying interest on the debt every year. And interest doesn't buy anything for the American people.
Now, then, we're spending $1.5 trillion a year. My question is, are we 15 times better off? All of the numbers say, no, we're worse off.
In addition, we've got a $5 trillion debt. Now, then we've spent $1.5 trillion. We've got $5 trillion in debt. We all should be living in utopia. And our only problem today that we should be debating and discussing is how do we bring this debt under control.
And here is the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say. And you've already heard it. Because you know where the money goes? It goes to pay off the special interest. We've got a big corporation in this country that pragmatically gives several millions a year and gets a $500 million subsidy every year from the taxpayers. That's where the money is going.
And as I talk about this -- and I've talked about the interest right now and how big it is. Right now, the interest on the national debt is $344 billion a year.
PEROT: But think of the United States, think of the Mississippi River, all of the ordinary income taxes west of the Mississippi River are used just to pay interest on the debt.
How'd you like to live in California and realize you're working all day, sending in your paycheck and all that does is pay interest on the debt.
Well, the people didn't benefit. The standard of living is down for four out of five of our workers. Manufacturing workers who still have a job -- they were making $440 a week, they're making $270 a week.
You hear -- wait a minute -- we got all this growth in the last four years, right. God bless them, they took care of us. Nobody tells you what those jobs are -- janitor, cleaner, food preparation worker, cashier -- these are minimum wage jobs, none paying enough to support a family.
Today, American workers -- let's just net it out in hard terms -- net less in real wages than they did in 1973. And after taxes with both mom and dad working and in most of those cases all the studies show mom would rather not work but she has to work to provide a life for the children. Two paychecks in a family barely equal the purchasing power of one paycheck 25 years ago.
All of this didn't buy the American people a thing. What we need to do is wake up. Face it, this should have been the centerpiece of the debates. Do you now understand why they didn't want me in the debate? I'd have pulled that little skunk up on the table and they would have said dah, dah, dah, you know. I feel your pain would probably have been the strongest thing that came out.
Income is up 60 percent for the top five percent of our work force, 137 percent for the one percent, top one percent.
Guess who is making those big political contributions? Believe me, it's not the working man. I hope I've made the point that big government and $5 trillion in debt did not benefit the people.
And now I've only covered one of our deficits. And when you talk about the other deficit in this town, you'd better have your bullet proof vest on because this is the home of NAFTA and GATT.
Now, let's look at the numbers. Now, as I go through these numbers let's pretend you're a fighter pilot and you're looking at the numbers on your panel. You're going to eject at some time during this period because, you know, this sucker is going to crash.
OK. A trade -- most people don't understand a trade surplus is good, a trade deficit is bad. So, when I say trade deficit, say oh, that's bad. Our merchandise trade deficit this year is $174 billion -- the largest of any nation in history. How do we get there? With these stupid deals like we make with Indonesia. Why do we get there? Every former chief trade negotiator you can run into is now making millions of dollars as a foreign lobbyist.
That sends a terrible signal to current and future trade negotiators. The former presidents go around the world and get paid $2 million for 20 minute speeches in Asia or six figures for a speech in Vietnam, take millions of dollars from foreign countries for their libraries. Say, what difference does it make, they're out of office. It sends a big signal to the current and future presidents about where the pot of gold is at the end of the rainbow, right.
You wouldn't let people in your company do that. You shouldn't have your public officials doing that. And if I am your president, all of that will stop. You come to serve not to cash in now or later. And when you go back home you get a real job not a lobbying job.
I know I'm saying this in the wrong town. The cumulative trade deficit for our great country's a trillion dollars. You say, well, Ross, what is the number-one growth industry in our great country. Is it electronics? Is it cars? What is it? No, it's the growth of the government.
You say, what's the product? Doesn't have one.
How does it make money? Taxes you. Well, is it making a profit? No, it's operating at a huge loss. This is not the growth industry we want, I hope.
Did you hear that in the debates? I don't think so. We now have more people working for government than manufacturing. And you cannot be a superpower unless you're a manufacturing superpower. Never forget that. And you cannot be a superpower unless you're an economic superpower.
And if you don't agree with that, look at Russia. When they went broke, they were no longer a superpower.
Twenty to 25 percent of the cost of making a product is human labor. And here's why everybody wants to go overseas. You can hire 47 Vietnamese workers for one American; 50 Chinese for one American; 37 Indonesians for one American; 22 Filipinos for one American; nine Mexicans for one American.
They have no workers' rights, no health care, no social security, no retirement. And hallelujah! No pollution or environmental costs. Just pump it in the air and dump it in the river.
And everybody says, boy, ain't it great, all our factories are south of the border now and we don't have that pollution.
I need more road scholars, r-o-a-d scholars, people who are street-smart and common sense who would ask a question like, which way does the wind blow for Mexico?
It blows from the south, folks. What is the most polluted river in the Western Hemisphere? The Rio Grande river. I don't know how any environmentalist can live with that.
We now have a trade deficit with China of $38 billion. It'll be $50 billion next year. And we're the only industrialized nation in the world that does not have a trade surplus with China. I hope I made my point. We don't know how to negotiate.
The trade deficit with Japan is $59 billion. NAFTA was going to make us all rich. The cumulative trade deficit with NAFTA so far, brand new program, $70 billion and going through the roof.
And you need to go to Mexico and see the Japanese and the European companies building factories in Mexico. Why? They don't have all the labor costs. They don't have all the human rights factors.
They don't have to fool with unions. They don't have to do anything. They can just get people to work for nothing, ship it across the border duty-free. This puts us in a very awkward position.
And finally, I'm going to close with this. This is from the Department of Defense. You're right here in the home of the Defense Department. I bet none of you have heard of this new DOD procurement manual that shows how fouled up our thinking is. These are direct quotes about buying defense equipment from foreign suppliers, since we don't have any factories here.
"Foreign dependence does not mean foreign vulnerability." Do you buy that? "Foreign sources cannot be automatically excluded on the basis to protect classified or unique technologies or products. Just because a foreign firm has control of a technology does not make us vulnerable."
How are you going to get it across the ocean in the next war? You'll be tracked by satellites, submarines roaring around under the ocean at 30 and 40 knots, on nuclear power.
Unmanned guided missiles, drones, what-have-you. It's a question of where you sink the ships. You've got to make it here in order to defend this great country.
PEROT: And then here's the last one, I love it. "Sheer physical distance from the United States is not by itself a risk which should merit foreign source exclusion."
Now, if anybody here thinks that policy makes sense, I would like to meet you, and I have things in my attic to sell you.
And I ask you in the press this question -- why isn't this front page news? We're talking about the future of our country and our ability to defend it.
Now, I am out of time, and I will close with these words, and we'll have fun on the Q&A.
The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, the debt should be reduced, and the arrogance of public officials should be controlled. I think that sums up everything I said, didn't it?
You say, well, why didn't you just say that and sit down, Ross? I don't know. I had to build up to it.
The reason I tell you that story is these are not my words, Cicero spoke these words 2000 years ago. There's something about human nature that never changes. History does repeat itself.
And keep in mind, our biggest enemy of all is that it is human nature to maintain the status quo until after a crisis develops. We cannot do that. We must anticipate it before it happens and keep it from happening. And I hope you find it interesting that neither of the other two presidential candidates even discuss it.
And now you know exactly why I was not included in the debate, because it would have been up there in three dimensional color because this will determine the world our country, our children and grandchildren will have in the 21st century.
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: The Republican and Democratic parties raised $30 million in soft money from corporations and individuals four years ago and $80 million this year. Why aren't people more upset about these disclosures? Will the outrage finally lead to campaign finance reform after this election?
PEROT: I think, if you live in a gambling house long enough, you think that's a way to make a living, right? I guess if you grew up in a place where they dealt dope from childhood, you'd say, hey, this is just farming.
We've been around it so long we just tolerate it, but we had better stop tolerating it because it is wrecking our country, and we had better fix it.
Now, our number one priority as a party is campaign reform and campaign finance reform, because until you -- we have good people trapped in a bad system now, and we've got to change the system or this will never happen.
It costs too much to get elected. How do you cure that? There's a lot of just common, barnyard things you do. Shorten the time for elections. You don't need to run for president two years out of every four years. Just run four months. Most of us are bored to death now.
You know, let's have four exciting months.
P>PEROT: Now then, that dramatically cuts the cost of campaigns.
Now to every member of the House and Senate, cut that down to four months and then just at them and smile and say, boys, from now on, you've got to get all the money from your district.
And they say, what? No, wait a minute. I'm from a remote, rural area in Idaho. I'm on the banking committee. I've got big banks all over the world down there on their knees outside my office trying to give me money. You want me to come back and talk to farmers?
I say, yes, they're your constituents. Remember the old movie Shane, where the little boy was saying, come home.
They'll be coming home every weekend to raise that money. And guess who they'll be focused on? The needs of their constituents.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to fix these problems. But the typical citizen is just rocking along.
Now here's my biggest frustration. We have wonderful people in our country but they feel powerless. If they don't listen to anything else I say today, remember that the Fortune 500 chief executive officers who may give a zillion bucks for campaigns, only cast 500 votes.
And millions of working Americans can determine the future of this country if we are not manipulated by the propaganda.
I have to give you my classic case. They had exit polls -- and we're so easily manipulated. At the end of the 1992 election, they asked people coming out of the polls, who would you have voted for if you had voted your conscience?
Forty percent said they would have voted for me, 31 percent for Clinton, 27 percent for Bush.
And then the pollster, I'm sure in just pure shock said, well, then why didn't you vote your conscience?
And they said because we were told again and again and again don't waste your vote for Perot in the last few weeks of the election, and we wanted to vote for a winner.
Well, they got a winner, right?
They got what they voted for.
Now here is my appeal to the American people. Don't throw away your vote. Don't waste your vote in 1996. Vote for the only group that is going to make these changes. The two existing parties cannot make these changes because this is their way of life.
We have to bring this new party in to make these changes. It's in your hands.
And your children's futures are in your hands.
QUESTION: The deficit has fallen from $290 billion in 1992, to $109 billion in 1996, the lowest in 22 years as a share of the economy. Why won't you give the Republicans and Democrats at least some credit for tackling the problem, even if there's more work to do.
PEROT: I want to use very short words when I answer this question for whoever asked it. Because I don't want to go over their heads. I would have thought maybe the question was written before I did my speech, I hope.
But the facts are: we got the biggest tax increase in history in 1993, right?
And we thought we were going to live happily ever after and balance the budget. There was no plan to balance the budget in that tax increase.
I said publicly it's a bridge halfway across the river. They never had a plan to balance the budget.
But they had -- to use the White House's term -- momentum. Well, what the hell difference does momentum make if you're coming up with a bad idea?
Now only in America would we be so gullible and so vulnerable that in 1996, both parties are tap dancing.
PEROT: I mean, they rehearsed it all afternoon. They're out there that night. They got on their best clothes, their makeup, their focus group, that they don't know what they believe in until someone tells them.
And they use Ronald Reagan's old speeches shamelessly. They don't need speech writers; just take Reagan's old speeches. You know, just ping those chords. Both sides.
Now, they're out there saying, we're going to cut your taxes in 1996. God bless you. You say, hallelujah, they're going to save us.
Well, I think my Road Scholar, that's the R-O-A-D scholar, again, says, hey, you know, one or the other didn't make sense. If the biggest tax increase in history make sense, how can this tax cut make any sense at all.
You run the interest rates down, you run -- The Federal Reserve runs the interest rates down. That helps get the deficit down. You change the way you count for the books. That helps get the deficit down.
You leave a huge number of things off-budget. That helps get the deficit down. But then all I've done is go to government numbers that take you out into the future where you're children and grandchildren will live.
And I don't care how much you hate -- I'm told again and again, the American people are not numerical. Well, when you realize that 89 percent of our high school -- excuse me, 84 percent of our high school seniors can't pass the math standards test. I think you're right.
But a lot of us older folks had to learn it. And we are numerical. And we're trying to protect them, even if they don't understand it. Right?
The point being, we can't do this to them. What could be more selfish than to spend your children's money. And to focus on this little two- or three-year trend, which is manipulated by low-interest rates and all these things I've told you and ignore the same people's numbers about an 82-percent tax rate for a baby born after 1995, is really failing to analyze the problem properly.
And that is our primary problem. You realize none of our social programs work. And do you know why? None of them were ever designed to work.
If I came to you today and said, we're going to build the biggest skyscraper in history in Washington, D.C. I want all of you to invest in it. Here's a picture. It is beautiful.
I'd like for you all to send money this afternoon. You'd say, Ross, do you have a blueprint? No, I don't have no blueprint. Got any mechanical engineering, electrical engineering? Have you had anybody put the elevators in? Oh, no, that comes later. Yet you want us to fund it now? Yes.
Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security never had a blueprint. It was a dream, massive legislation. You say, well, anything big and complex like that surely they would pilot-test it, debugged it and optimized it before they massed produced it. Because only then do you know if it will work. And only then do you know your real cost.
Did you ever hear anybody in Washington even talk this way? Did you hear anything like this in the debates? You can't make a screwdriver unless you go through that process. If you do, the handle would break off from the shaft. Or it won't fit into the screw.
You've got to pilot test, optimize and debug.
None of that was ever done. Massive dream, noble concept, massive legislation, massive taxes, massive failures and mediocre performance and massive tax increases. That's how we got into this pit.
We're going to have to redesign, re-engineer all these programs. It can be done. We've got to have the courage to do it.
Oh, you say, oh, I've got mine now. I don't care about anybody but me.
PEROT: That guarantees the failure of a free society. No free society can thrive unless we love and care for one another.
QUESTION: Did you speak with Mr. Dole directly either immediately before or after news of the withdrawal plea became known? Did you or anyone in the Reform Party, give the Dole camp any reason to believe you might be receptive to their request that you drop out and endorse Dole?
PEROT: When people ask me to have private conversations, I honor their commitment. Now, you'd say Ross, after a few years in Washington, why would you do that?
I think I would just like to leave all of this in the hands of the Dole camp. And they've said enough already, I think, to pretty well cover all the answers. And the thing I want to make crystal clear to all of you, I've given five years of my life to this. I have worked night and day and I do it for one reason and that is concern for the future of this wonderful country. And I'm probably the most blessed man alive in this country because of my family and the parents I had and my children and my ten wonderful grandchildren.
And I just cannot in good conscience live with myself knowing and understanding what we're doing to the greatest country in the history of man. I will continue to work tirelessly as long as I'm here. And I'll probably be here a long time.
For two reasons -- one of my closest pals, you know, somebody asked him -- very intense -- says, do you all ever worry about Ross' heart? And he said, no never. He said why? He said, doesn't have one.
OK, so we don't have to worry about that.
And secondly -- well, how do you know you're going to be here a long time? The good die young, that guarantees me a long, healthy life. So, you'll be stuck with me for a long time.
Now, I will consider total failure if I can't energize the American people to anticipate this and avoid it, I will have failed my country. And I am really appreciative when I have opportunities like this to talk about it. But isn't it fascinating that day after day, month after month, I talk about this and it gets very little attention. But if something weird and totally inconsequential pops up like this thing yesterday, that is a really big news, right.
Now, I would think the future of our country and the financial condition of our country would be news. I would say for anything you want to know about this talk to the Dole group. They are the ones that talk. They -- you know, people ask me for private conversation, I'll agree to talk to almost anybody.
And -- had no idea -- but the point is am I in this for the long haul, yes.
Do I intend to campaign until the bitter end? Yes. And how could we possibly win? Let me tell you how we can win in '96. If the 27.5 million men and women who fought in our armed forces and their families decide to vote for the Reform Party to pass on a better, stronger country to their children -- and this is a group I have been close to for the last 30 years. If they will answer the bugle call one more time and vote for change, we can win.
I'm very close to the six million small businesses and the 80 million people who work there. I relate to them. I started by myself with nothing but a dream. If those six million small businesses who are America's forgotten heroes and the 80 million people there who are the heart of our tax base, who are threatened by these policies that take place today, will rally behind, we will have a melt down.
If the 18 to 35 year-olds who are old enough to vote and old enough to understand what we're doing to them in the next century show up and vote, it's all over.
PEROT: And finally -- and this is a group that I have a special attraction to.
Nearly half of our citizens are so cynical and disillusioned they don't even bother to vote. I ask you to saddle up, suit up, mount up, and one more time, just one more time show up and vote and put the Reform Party in a position where we can start making these changes before the crisis occurs. That's the way you can get it done in '96, and they probably will have the whole bunch of pollsters out of work.
Now, let me ask you a question. I ask people this all the time. How many of you have ever been called by a pollster? I never heard from one in my whole life. That's one hand up. Thank you.
The point being, polls are very manipulative. And to go back to tell you the rest of the story, you say, Ross, who paid for that crazy poll, the exit poll of '92? All the big media. Say, dang, I never read it. I think they were embarrassed to print it. Thank you.
QUESTION: Was Bob Dole's request to you to drop out of the race a sign of desperation on his part?
PEROT: In no way do I want to do anything to harm another candidate's constructive campaign, and I don't want to say or do anything.
The thing I can assure you is that I am here, I am here to stay. We have got to stay the course because when we're to the point that the other two parties won't even talk about it and the other two parties won't even debate it, and then the other two parties don't want me to have a voice to debate it, and when I go to the Federal Election Commission and realize they're half Democrats and half Republicans, that doesn't seem exactly like a federal court system to me.
But anyhow then, in '92 we were able to buy a lot of 30 minute programs to educate the people. Suddenly we assumed as our strategy we would be in the debate, we'd buy a lot of 30 minute programs. I wanted to demonstrate to you that you could win a presidential campaign for less than $30 million and it didn't take these hundreds of millions of dollars they spend on it.
Well, we needed both accesses to the people, and we've been pretty well frozen out this time around. But every now and then a blind hog finds an acorn. And you're fortunately kind enough to invite us here today and we have a voice and we have gotten the message out today.
And now the only question I'll have 'till in the morning is did anybody print it? Did anybody write a story about the debt, the deficit, the serious problems, or is all this what kind of tie Perot had on today and, you know, what was the story about, the follow-on on the story yesterday, none of which has anything to do with the future of our country.
Let's all grow up between now and November and focus on real issues. I don't ask you, I beg you.
QUESTION: What future does the Reform Party have if you do not get more than the six or seven percent you now have in the polls since you would not have automatic ballot status in many states and might not qualify for federal matching funds?
PEROT: Again, that assumes the worst case. Nobody ever said that life was fair.
PEROT: Nobody ever said that life was pretty.
Thousands of years ago the Chinese understood that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step.
We need to win now because time is critical. Nobody knows when this meltdown will occur. But this meltdown will occur.
You say, how do you know that?
If I've got a friend that's drinking all day -- every day -- I know his liver's going. I don't know when. Is that fair enough?
If I've got a friend that's smoking night and day, I know his lungs are going. I don't know when. I can't forecast exactly when.
But if you have a friend dying of cancer, you don't know when they will finally die. But when you look at all of these facts -- which nobody wants the American people to see -- I think the average person will get it in a hurry.
For example, I have to tell you this story. When I go wandering around by myself, and as you may notice, I do wander around by myself.
And I don't have all these entourages that everybody has with them. It's just me.
I go to a place like Home Depot. And ordinary people come up. They feel very comfortable coming up to me. And I have to tell you this -- this is a waste of your time but it's funny.
First thing they say, dang, Ross, you look a whole lot better in real life than you do on television.
I say, thank you very much.
Then they say, what's the problem with Social Security?
I say, well, what do you think it is?
They say, I send my paycheck in every two weeks. My boss sends his paycheck in. They put it in a pension fund. I'm supposed to get it when I retire, but I keep reading there's a problem.
I say, well, you're partially right. You send it in. The boss sends it. But as soon as it hits Washington -- faster than Domino's delivers pizza, it goes out the door to retired people.
And then they figure, well, they keep talking about this Social Security trust fund in the debates.
I say, if you go to Washington and ask to see it, all you're going to see is an empty vault with a piece of paper on the floor. And it's a note. And not only are we now paying interest on the note. We're going to have to pay interest on the interest on the note someday.
But there's no problem, folks, I don't want you to worry. Because as I build my bridge to the 21st century, I want you to know that trust fund has the full faith and credit of the United States government.
But then my roads scholar would say, yes, but where does the government get its money?
From the taxpayers, right? You and I are going to have to cough all of that up.
Now this is what the American people have got to understand. And if they ever get it, there's no question in my mind because their love for this country, their love for their children, they will show up and vote for the changes that must be made.
And we will make those changes because that's the only reason we're in this. And we don't take a penny of special interest money.
And we don't take a penny of foreign money. And we will be around. And hopefully we will have good fortune in '96, not for us, but for our country because our country really needs it.
QUESTION: Putting aside the presidency for a moment, will the country be better off if the Republicans maintain control of Congress or the Democrats gain it back?
PEROT: Well, you're in a two-party box with your thinking there. And you need to understand that the two parties are both fine people and both fine organizations, but they've been living in the gambling house too long.
It all looks normal to them.
You get these idealistic freshmen, and after two years in the House they're out there taking foreign money, PAC money, dreaming about being lobbyists someday, and what have you.
PEROT: You need to take all that out of government. You say, my gosh, Ross, lobbying's an $8.4 billion industry here inside the beltway. And I say, yes, and drug dealing is $120 billion-a-year business coming across the border in Mexico. But does that make it right?
This is not good for our country. When the New York Times writes stories that the lobbyists are no longer in the aisles; they're at the table writing the laws, it's gone too far.
I don't mind lobbyists exchanging ideas with people. It's when you get into the money game that it corrupts them because of the cost of campaigns. See, it all ties together.
And, please, as you think about all this, recognize that you have to start work on all these problems at once. Because they're all inter-related like pieces of a puzzle. And up here at the top, you've got all these big programs. You start with government reform, government campaign reforms, so on and so forth.
Then you go through Medicare, Medicaid, redesign, re-engineer them, make them work. But then you've got to have the tax base -- Have you ever heard a politician talk like this? -- a tax base that can pay for all that.
And, oops! If you don't have the job base, you'll never have the tax base. So, you've got to have the American people at work in good, paying jobs. All of that is pieces of a puzzle that have to fit together, just like you would design and engineer a car or any complex system.
And then, finally, whatever you build has to rest on a granite foundation. And the granite foundation in this country is, who are we. Are we a kind, warm, loving, caring people? Do we love one another, do we hate one another because of differences in color and race and religion and so on and so forth?
Are we a united team dedicated to building this country? Do we have a granite foundation or are we trying to build a house on sand for the 21st century?
And when you look at the deterioration of our moral and ethical base, and those of you who are my age who look at what is now considered OK behavior, which at one time would have been considered a source of great shame, you realize our moral and ethical standards have dropped.
When you look at what we tolerate in the White House, you realize our moral and ethical standards don't exist. And if that's what the American people want as leaders, then we are not going to get these problems solved.
I hope that message will get across.
QUESTION: Who was the drug dealer invited to the White House?
ROSS: Well, I've got his name right here. When you're in the business I'm in, you've got to have names, ranks and serial numbers here. And I will get it right here for you. And I'm sure the questioner's fondest dream was that I didn't know.
Let's see here, got it right here. I thought I mentioned his name. Let's see.
(UNKNOWN): Jorge Cabrera.
ROSS: You got it, right there.
He was invited to the White House as a guest after the fundraiser. I do have it here. J-O-R-G-E C-A-B-R-E-R-A. Cabrera. OK? Thank you.
Next. That's a short answer for a change. Took me a while to find it.
QUESTION: Dick Lamm is bitter. He says you put your ego ahead of the best interests of the Reform Party and your nomination was fixed. Your response.
PEROT: Very short answer. That's absolutely false.
PEROT: And I don't think that's the way Governor Lamm feels. But the point is, let's go through politics. How many times in politics have you seen anybody mail out nation-wide flyers and include both candidates? At his expense?
I paid for all the mailings to the Reform Party explaining Dick Lamm's positions. I paid for all the costs of the conventions. Dick Lamm didn't spend a penny. He showed up every day and had a complaint, because that's the way he got press.
So the only way he could get press was to show up and belly-ache about something every day. And that was fine. But every time he complained, we tried to give him whatever he wanted.
Now, for example, you remember when he complained that I wouldn't debate with him? We were in Virginia together. We were making speeches to a convention there. He couldn't get to Maine to the convention. I said, come on, I'll give you a ride. Did you ever hear of another politician doing that?
For our hour-and-a-half, he sat on the plane, never said a word about the fact that he had told the press down in Virginia that he wanted to debate, and then we were just covered with it when we got there about why we wouldn't debate Lamm.
He and I had an hour-and-a-half to discuss about the debate, how to do it and -- that's just politics. You understand that. He's a product of the old system.
And you know, then it just -- then -- here's one for you. He was all upset about when he would get to speak at the convention. And he was going to the press complaining bitter -- you know, again and again.
And I called him. I said, Dick, when do you want to speak? He said, I want to speak first, and I want several other people to speak.
I said fine. He said, don't you want to flip a coin? I said, no, if you want to speak first, you want several other speakers, fine. I don't think -- that's not the way they dealt with me on the debates. Is that a fair enough statement?
So we did everything we could to try to accommodate him, and I'm sorry that some people have that sense of it. But if you will look at the facts, that we live in an interesting world. Facts don't matter as much as spin right now. Those are the facts.
HILLGREN: Mr. Perot, before I ask the last question, I would like to give you another Press Club mug. And I know you've spoken hear so many times that you probably now have a set, one for each of your 10 grandchildren. And another certificate of appreciation. You might give them to the grandkids. I think they're so small, they might color on them.
But anyway, the last question. You say we now want a smooth- talker in the White House who tells us what we want to hear, and we're paying a price.
Well, Dole is definitely not a smooth talker. Why not endorse him, or should he endorse you?
PEROT: Well, I don't think -- let's, let's take -- fascinating. Now let's assume we're just going to start today and really find someone qualified to be president and do a great job. I have great news for you, I have found George Washington's identical twin. Just the man we need for this moment.
And I'm sure that every thinking person out there near Washington -- oh, Ross, forget it. The guy has wooden teeth. He'll die the first night he's on television.
So then I go out for a few days and come back. Boy, and I excited! I've got Abraham Lincoln's identical twin. Big old tall gangly guy with a beard, Ross? You know, what the heck are you trying to sell here?
We're not trying to sell dog food here, folks. We're trying to sell leaders.
Now, then, I finally come back with FDR's identical twin. You say, Ross, that worked OK on radio because they couldn't see him. But I don't care how brilliant he is.
PEROT: I don't care what a great leader he is. I don't care that he got us through the Depression and fought in one world war or two with a White House staff of 200.
Now, just think -- if you can fight and win World War II with a White House staff of 200, why do we need almost 2,000 now?
I'd love to debate someone on that.
But -- and let me ask you this -- why do we need Air Force One anymore. The Cold War's over. How could I -- if I were your president, we would not have Air Force One because Air Force One cost $1,250,000 per flight.
The 89th Airlift Wing has over 6,000 people in it, the last time I checked, and has something like 20 airplanes and what have you.
And hard-working people say -- Ross, how many hangars they have for all those airplanes? If they've 6,000...
I said -- they don't have any. They just cover them with human bodies at night.
The point is -- can you imagine an airline tying up 6,000 people for 20 airplanes? No, no.
The point being -- this has resulted in a government -- the show business government of America. And why do they go to Hollywood? That's how you learn to act, man.
Now, keep in mind -- who is the greatest fighter pilot that ever lived? Tom Cruise -- can't fly.
What about Robbie Reisner? Never heard of him. What about Chuck Yeager? Yes, he's an old guy. I kind of remember him.
The point being -- we are so twisted up. It's bizarre.
But isn't it interesting -- everybody rushes to Hollywood for makeup, for acting, for haircuts on the runway -- because you've got to just be looking good. The fact that you don't say nothing doesn't matter. The fact that you say stuff that doesn't make sense doesn't matter.
The fact that you say things and do things that damage the country don't matter. It's just important to get out there, tap dance, chew gum and juggle, and entertain them.
And the next time you watch a State of the Union message, I hope you'll just sit at home and whistle "There's No Business Like Show Business Like No Business I Know."
"Everything about it is appealing." You follow me?
Now contrast the last State -- knowing Washington and understanding it -- here you had the rousing crowd. You had our heroes in the balcony. You had our military leaders with their medals down front.
This was Hollywood and Broadway at its best, and then Bob Dole spoke in an empty room.
William Jennings Bryan -- or whoever your favorite orator might be -- would need the crowd, the excitement, the elec -- do you follow me?
But what does this have to do with anything?
And I will close with this thought. See, I never used to let anybody put makeup on me. I said -- what the heck. I'm not trying to go to beauty school.
And -- that's why all the guys in Home Depot said -- You look a whole lot better in real life than you do in...
Then, one night on Larry King, this nice little girl says -- Ross, you cut your -- you've got a cut under your eye. And you've got to put makeup on tonight.
I said -- I'm not going to put makeup on.
She said -- nobody will listen to you and they'll all want to know why you have a cut under your eye.
I said -- have the first caller ask me that question. We'll get it out of the way.
And she says -- what are you going to tell him?
I said -- I'm going to tell him you hit me just before the show started.
So that did it. So I put on makeup.
Now then, I went home that night. At one in the morning, Margaret jumped out of bed and says -- You looked terrific tonight.
Then -- here's the best part.
You know -- men, systems engineers, guys that normally don't think about how pretty you are -- the next day said -- Ross, you looked terrific last night.
At 4:30 in the afternoon, I pulled in everybody that said how great I looked and I said -- does anybody remember what we talked about?
And hardly anybody did.
Isn't that fascinating?
Now, as long as we live in this world of fluff, and as long as you've got all of these handlers and spin controllers and in 90 seconds, you can turn on TV and somebody -- you know -- who would have trouble feeding his cat tells you what to think politically.
We're in trouble as a country.
God bless you all, and God bless the U.S.A.