February 17, 2012
By Jason Notte
DALLAS (MainStreet) -- The primaries were drawing to a close, populist anger over the deficit and foreign trade were reaching their peak and American voters were facing a choice between an incumbent they weren't keen on and an opposing field of candidates that wasn't providing much inspiration.
This was the backdrop Feb. 20, 1992, when Texas information technology billionaire H. Ross Perot went before the cameras of CNN's Larry King Live and strongly suggested he'd make an independent run for the presidency if volunteers would get him on the ballot in all 50 states. He'd never been a politician, but Perot shared burgeoning American sentiment against the nearly $300 billion national deficit, the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement and then-President George H.W. Bush's administration.
"There was a high degree of frustration among Americans with their government," says Carolyn Barta, political reporter and columnist for The Dallas Morning News, journalism professor at Southern Methodist University and author of the 1997 book Perot And His People: Disrupting The Balance of Political Power. "To most Americans, government is not working. They're dissatisfied with Congress, they're dissatisfied with the president, they're frustrated and Perot showed that government was growing irrelevant to Americans."...