Excerpts of News Conference Announcing Decision to Campaign for President
Good afternoon. The volunteers in all 50 states have asked me to run as a candidate for President of the United States. Jim Stockdale, our Vice-Presidential candidate, and I are honored to accept their request. Few people in this country have been able to live the American dream to the extent that I have. No person ever had a finer father, mother or sister than I. No man has ever been blessed with a better wife, Margot, or five more outstanding children plus six grandchildren -- too good to be true.
I have been extremely fortunate during my business career. So I have lived the American dream. And certainly if anyone in this country should be obligated to serve our country and its people I should be.
The volunteers know that this is a critical time in our nation's history. Neither political party has effectively addressed the issues that concern the American people. They have asked me to run this campaign on the issues and to assure that the problems the American people are concerned with will be dealt with after this election is over.
I know I hurt many of the volunteers who worked so hard through the spring and summer when I stepped aside in July. I thought it was the right thing to do. I thought that both political parties would address the problems that face the nation. We gave them a chance. They didn't do it. But the volunteers on their own forged ahead and put me on the ballot in the final 26 states after July 16.
The day we were on the ballot in all 50 states the volunteers requested that I come back in because the political parties had not responded to their concerns.
My decision in July hurt you. I apologize. I thought I was doing the right thing. I made a mistake. I take full responsibility for it. There's only one issue now, starting today, and that is what's good for our country.
Looking back won't solve any of our problems. Looking forward, working together, we can fix anything. The American people are concerned about a Government in gridlock. Our people are good. The American people are good. But they have a Government that is a mess.
The American people are concerned about this Government they pay for that doesn't produce results. Everybody in Washington makes excuses. Nobody takes responsibility, even when they have direct responsibility. The American people have figured that out. They want that changed.
The American people are really concerned about a Government where people go to Washington to cash in and not to serve. They want the Government changed so that people go as servants of the people back home, and do not use Government service as a stepping stone to financial success.
The people know that it is wrong to spend our children's money. Nothing could be more wrong. We know that we cannot constantly pass on a $4 trillion debt to our children. The people want this problem squarely dealt with. They want our financial house put back in order.
The people are concerned that our Government is still organized to fight the cold war. They want it reorganized to rebuild America as the highest priority. In order to do that, the highest priority of all is to rebuild the job base and the industrial base. We've got to put out people back to work. We've got to stop the loss of entire industries that go to other countries.
We must make the words "made in the U.S.A." once again the world's standard for excellence.
Not only is Government a mess, politics is also a mess. The way political campaigns are run is a mess. The people want a new political climate where the system does not attract ego-driven, power-hungry people.
We will create an environment that attracts the best people in the country to come to serve, and to go back home, and go to work. Together we can solve these problems and make the political process responsible and relevant to selecting the best people in the country.
These are the issues we'll talk about in the coming weeks. I will not spend one minute answering questions that are not directly relevant to the issues that concern the American people.
And now to the American people, I don't belong to anybody but you. You the people own me. If you elect me I go as your servant. I will work night and day to see that the priorities that you have established are accomplished.
To the many young people -- and it's a disproportionate number of very young people who have called me, written me and some have even driven across country to Dallas to visit with me at their own expense, expressing concern about what kind of country they will live in as adults, wondering whether or not they will even have a job when they get out of school. Now this is unthinkable, that you'd have a college degree and not be able to get a job in America.
When I think of all the sacrifices my parents and all the generations who came before them made in the earlier times for us so that we could live the American dream, certainly we all dedicate ourselves to seeing that you, the young people in our country, will have the American dream passed on to you.
Even the very young ones write me. This little girl, a beautiful little girl, Adrian Cagiano. I'll leave this picture for you. Here is -- here are a few excerpts from her letter:
"My name is Adrian Cagiano. I am 9 years old, almost 10. I wish you would really run for President and I wish I could vote. I think everyone should get to say how they would like to see things done. I just don't think a small group of people should decide all these things for a whole bunch of people." This is signed Adrian, Rural Route 2, Augusta, Kan.
Now when you're hot and you're tired, and you're worn out some day, take a look at this little girl and her sisters, and you'll say whatever it takes we've got to do it, we've got to pass on the American dream to them.
To the retired people who made it through the Depression, fought and won World War II -- now how's that for a double hit? Grow up in the Depression and then as a bonus get to fight and win World War II. Worked and sacrificed most of their lives. I know you share my commitment to make sure that we pass the American dream on to our children and grandchildren.
One of my most poignant memories is the day Mort Myerson became the president of Electronic Data Systems. His 95-year-old grandfather was there. His grandfather had had to flee Russia many years ago because he happened to be a Jew. He lived in an attic in Brooklyn for 18 months working as a tailor as a young man, so he could get together enough money to buy a train ticket to Fort Worth, Tex. He reared a fine young son and that son became Mort Myerson's father. He was there when Mort became president of E.D.S. At the end of the meeting Mr. Myerson came forward with tears in his eyes and hugged Mort and said, "Son, through you I have fulfilled all of the dreams I had as a young man when I came to America."
Now, that's what this is all about -- fair-shared sacrifice will be necessary to solve these problems. The last time we all sacrificed together was World War II. Everybody participated in the sacrifice. We won. We can win again if each one in this country will carry his part of the burden.
To the huge number of people in the armed forces, the largest single group of people who have written me and urged me to run these past few months are our military forces and people who are veterans. You've written, you've called and you've volunteered your time urging me to run. I do this for you primarily because you fought and won the hot wars and the 45-year-long cold war for us. And in many cases, nobody ever even said thank you. This is my tiny little way of saying thank you.
Certainly you deserve a country for yourselves and your children that fulfills the ideals that you fought for on the battlefield. Some of you gave your lives. I do this for the widows and the children. Many of you bear the permanent scars of the war. I do it for you.
I received a Purple Heart through the mail yesterday and a letter. Some short excerpts:
"Dear Ross: I was awarded this Purple Heart for wounds received during a Vietnam ambush in 1968. Over the years, its value to me has grown significantly, and like my family, it is priceless. I would be honored if you would accept the loan of my Purple Heart to keep with you throughout the campaign. I believe that it can serve as a compelling reminder that the hard battle ahead can and must be won.
"Let it also remind you of the army of ordinary citizens that has mustered to your call and looks to you to stop the hemorrhaging of the American spirit, to unite once and for all our diverse citizenry under a single American banner, and to restore honesty, integrity and responsibility to our Government. Like you, I firmly believe that if we stand united, we will win. Good luck, Ross. Dennis Garvin, Wilmington, Del."
Dennis, thank you. I'll keep it with me during the campaign. I understand it's on loan. I'll get it back to you. Never forget, to everybody listening today, I can't do this job without your continued support. One person is nothing in a task this large. If millions of you will come together, we can do anything. There's nothing we can't do. It's up to you; it's up to all of us. I promise you I'll give it everything I have, but the final results are in your hands, because you own this country and you are the voters.
I look forward to squarely presenting these issues day after day to the American people. I would like to thank the American people. By choosing me as your candidate, you have given me the highest honor I could ever receive.
In closing, let me say this. I love this country. I love the American people. I love the principles on which this country was founded and I don't like to see those principles violated, and there are millions of folks out there just like me that are sick and tired of it.
I am totally committed to serving you, God bless you all, thank you for this honor, and now I would like to introduce Jim Stockdale, our Vice-Presidential candidate, and his wife, Sibyl. Jim Stockdale is a hero's hero. He's a recipient of the medal of honor. In addition to that he is a scholar. He is a retired admiral. He suffered as a prisoner of war during Vietnam as few people have.
He provided leadership that caused our Government to award him the medal of honor. In order to receive it his fellow prisoners have to recommend him for it, the ultimate compliment. He is a man of steel. He has been hammered on the forge of brutality and was able to reach outside himself to provide strength to others.
I can't tell you how many P.O.W.'s told me when they came home that they would not be alive if it had not been for Jim Stockdale. He gave them the courage to go forward and to live. Now that's leadership, that's the kind of person that built our country. We're very fortunate to have a man of his quality to serve us.
And now let me tell you a little bit about Sibyl. She is one of the great women in our country. When the men were dying from brutality and neglect, Sibyl Stockdale and a handful of dedicated wives and mothers were out there trying to get someone to do something so that their husbands could survive this very long war.
She finally broke through. She got our Government to change its policies from not saying anything about it to one of embarrassing the North Vietnamese into changing the treatment so that more men would survive that ordeal.
There are few women during the period of my life of 62 years who have shown more strength, more courage, more commitment and more dedication, who have been more brutally tested than Mrs. Stockdale, and as a combination, it's two pieces of steel.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: You're not going to tell us what your campaign plans are. Will you tell us where you're going to appear and when?
A: We're not going to reveal our strategy. We will just have it unfold day after day without any -- here's the one thing you can bet on: It's going to be serious; it's going to focus on the issues. . . .
Q: Why should America put its trust in an economic plan crafted largely by a Carter Administration official?
A: No. 1, it was not crafted largely by that person. That person participated on the team, made an important contribution. That person is a very bright, wise, able person. I had absolute control over that plan, was deeply involved in it myself, and a very talented team made up of a number of people participated.
Q: Your opponents say the gas tax and the increased taxes on Social Security benefits and the income tax [inaudible] falls too heavily on the middle class, and the rich don't participate as much as the middle class does. How are you going to respond to that?
A: Well, you'd expect your opponents to distort and twist and present, and I wouldn't dignify that answer -- I wouldn't dignify that answer with comment. I know exactly who that comes from. I know where exactly where it comes from. He said it so many times ----
Q: Two months ago you said you were quitting the race because you didn't want to be a spoiler and you didn't want to be disruptive. Now you say you're back to win this thing.
Q: Isn't your strategy to disrupt George Bush's vote in a number of key states, including this one, Texas?
A: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. That's press myth No. 615. . . .
He has called me every name in the book. All I've ever said, Fine man, fine family. The only thing I've ever criticized is his mistakes in office. That's it. We're talking about performance here and not personality. See? I'm everything from a monster to crazy, though, coming from them, right?
Q: Did you know your campaign has hired people to investigate some of your volunteers? What's your [inaudible]?
A: No. 1, your question is, "Did I know that?" No.
No. 2, let's look, because I now have checked to find out what was going on. Number -- here is what happened. People, we had 50 states, offices all over 50 states, manned by self-selected volunteers. Some of them would call Dallas and say, Charley is stealing money. In order to comply with the Federal Election Commission rules, we had to check it out. So we would check. In most cases it was just false signals.
Then we would have a situation come up, say, gee, we've got a fellow out here in accounting in a secure area that your accounting coordinator that had done three terms in jail. Well, we would have to check that out. Ninety percent of the contact with that firm, most of the effort with that firm was just providing security people in offices that needed security. We would rent security people by the hour from them.
Now, let's stop and think about this for a minute. I would urge someone to say, "Well, how many people do you have in dirty tricks or opposition research?" Don't have any -- never had any. Isn't it fascinating that everybody goes bonkers on the front page of their paper the day I am to make this acceptance on a non-issue and ignores both parties who are in absolutely overdrive and overload trying to destroy one another personally?
Step 2, really now, if there's any balance and fairness in what you do, give the same attention to their investigative capability that you have created out of thin air about our nonexistent investigative capability. Find out how many full-time investigators they have checking everything is breathing.
And I think you'll conclude there's a lot of paranoia, at least in one place.
So I realize it's a tough game, and I realize nobody has to -- there are no Marquis of Queensberry rules, and I don't care. But I find it silly to the point of ridiculous that if you write a nonstory just because it gives you something hot that you don't take the time to say, "What about these other two guys?" Listen, we are not even in the game when it comes to investigation, in terms of what they're doing. And we don't -- all we try to do, if somebody says somebody's stealing, we check it out. We're required to, under the Federal Election Commission, not to let people steal money.
Now, if that upsets you, I'm sorry, folks, that's it.
Q: You had several quotes about how they use investigators, "they investigate everything breathing." Do you have chapter and verse about their use of investigators to either investigate you or the American people?
A: I don't feed the press.
Q: Well, you made the accusation.
A: Everybody else does. I don't give you a feed every morning about something nasty about -- did anybody here ever get a nasty feed from me? I rest my case.
H. Ross Perot, Excerpts of News Conference Announcing Decision to Campaign for President Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/285619