Electability
Jude Wanniski
July 29, 1996

 

Memo To: Ross Perot
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Electability

Conventional wisdom has concluded that there is no chance that you could be elected in November. I'm not sure that you can, but I think you could come close. That is, I think at the moment the electorate would consider giving you a large protest vote, but it will take some doing for it to consider giving you the Oval Office. The uncertainties have to do with doubts about your willingness to work with the establishment on matters of foreign policy both national security and foreign economic policy. I'm not concerned that you would not be able to handle these areas especially in a world that is essentially at peace, with not even remote signs of war on the far horizon. You did lose ground on NAFTA, especially in your debate with Gore, but I have no doubt your handling of such issues would be superior to Clinton's, and perhaps to Dole's. The mess in Mexico belongs at the doorstep of Clinton's Treasury department.

Ordinary Americans are more comfortable with you on domestic policy as witness the poll last week in the WSJournal reporting that of Perot, Clinton and Dole, you would be the President most likely to guide the country out of recession. If you are to advance to more serious consideration, I still think you will have to present a clearer picture of your ideas about economic growth, and how to sustain it. I'm under the impression you agree with the concept and detail of Jack Kemp's June 18 proposal of a bipartisan economic plan. If you were to at some point publicly endorse the idea, it would provide you with a ready-made platform. My guess is that neither Dole nor Clinton will be able to endorse the plan, because they have already decided to move in different directions.

After seeing that Gordon Black has been doing some polling work for you, I called him Friday to discuss your prospects. He believes you will be closer to 19% in the polls by Labor Day and that you will soon thereafter pass Dole, with the race against Clinton going down to the wire. I can see that happening if Dole remains on the track he is on. If you have a credible program such as Kemp's June 18 proposal, and a credible running mate, you should be well above 19% by Labor Day. Otherwise, I don't think you would have much prospect of being elected. You could come close, but unless you present a direction for balancing the budget through economic growth, you will fall victim to the same contradictions that have stymied the two major parties.