Perot's Pick: A Twist In An Old Feud

If Texas weren't so huge, Ross Perot and the Bush family could never have shared it. Their feud goes back to the 1992 campaign, when Perot's Reform Party bid helped cost President George Bush his re-election. In an unhinged moment close to Election Day in 1992, Perot accused the Bushies of plotting to disrupt his daughter's wedding; the campaign called him "loony." Last week, looking older and even less sure-footed, the man who wanted to tinker under America's hood tried to make amends by endorsing George W's White House bid. Bush seemed grateful, if preoccupied with more pressing matters. His father "was surprised," said the elder Bush's chief of staff. "I'll leave it at that."

As usual, only a few people close to Perot knew his thinking, and few others cared. But while the endorsement probably won't have much impact on Bush's campaign, it came as a final, stunning blow to Perot's remaining Reform loyalists. "It's a sad way to end a movement that had such an impact," says Jim Mangia, a ranking Perotista. The term "Perot voter" came to signify the kind of angry centrist that every candidate now courts. But Perot's movement crumbled as he grew more reclusive and lost control of Reform to the Buchanan brigades. In the end, says Perot aide Russell Verney, Perot gave up on third parties, realizing they're "destined to lose." This time, he hopes he picked a winner.

Perot's Pick: A Twist In An Old Feud | News