MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) – Ross Perot was the most successful independent presidential candidate of his time, and a former, top ranking Wisconsin libertarian leader spoke out on his legacy.
Phil Anderson is a Libertarian National Committee member and said Perot’s Texas tycoon twang and straight forward character appealed to voters. The late Texas billionaire died at 89-years-old in Dallas on Tuesday after battling leukemia.
“People like outsiders, and you often see in campaigns for president [or] government, people try and position themselves as the candidate from the outside because it’s attractive to voters across the spectrum,” said Anderson.
However, Anderson said the fallout from Perot winning a fifth of the vote in the 1992 election came at a cost for multi-party debates. Since that time, the two-party system focuses on front runners instead of an open dialogue from all candidates, said Anderson.
“He was one of the first third-party candidates to garner any meaningful support in the modern era,” said UW-Madison Journalism Professor Mike Wagner. Anderson agrees.
Anderson believes Perot will go down in history for starting the reform party and buying airtime with his infamous pie chart infomercials.
“His appeal as a businessman being involved in politics I think will always resonate with voters,” said Anderson. “In some ways, Ross Perot was a precursor to Donald Trump, but in the way that he built himself on television. Perot had to do it by buying television time and doing these long infomercials about these economic plans, but it opened the doors for people who were well-known, wealthy, on TV to have careers in politics.”
Perot paved his own trail to history.
“He was a very interesting man, self-funded [and] had some very libertarian views, some things that were refreshing to even people in 1992,” said Anderson. “Perot has a legacy that goes beyond his own candidacy."