Quest for the Presidency, 1992

By Peter L. Goldman; Thomas M. Defrank et al. | Go to book overview

21.
Citizen Perot

I n plain Texas talk, as Ross Perot might have put it, the whole thing might never have happened if he hadn't returned a cold call from a total stranger named John Jay Hooker one November morning in 1991. Hooker was just one more in a long line of good people who had been after Perot for years to run for public office -- people who had fallen hard for him or, more often, for his legend as the last of the great cowboy capitalists. There had been so many of them for so long that his assistant, Sally Bell, usually spared him the trouble of having to say no himself. Mr. Perot had heard it all before, she would advise callers to his corporate tower in Dallas, and had never been remotely tempted.

But neither she nor her boss had ever run into anybody quite so persistent as Hooker, or so persuasive when in the throes of one of his visions. Hooker, at sixty-one, was a large, idiosyncratic man with a shock of white hair, usually crowned by a Panama hat, and a roughly matching white Cadillac. The day he punched up Perot's number from his sixth-floor apartment in midtown Nashville, he had a mission as well: to save America from impending ruin. Hooker, a liberal Democrat, had himself failed in three tries at elective office; he had done better in business, from fried-chicken franchising to newspaper publishing, but had never given up his dreams of changing the world. He had a knack for putting rich men next to big ideas, and this idea was his biggest ever. He had decided that Ross Perot should be the next president of the United States.

"Oh, he's not going to do that," Ms. Bell told him, laughing.

"Maybe he'll say no," Hooker said, "but let me just ask him."

"You're wasting your time," she said.

"Just get him to call me," he insisted.

Within a half-hour, his phone rang. "Hello, John," a reedy voice said. "This is Ross. How you doing?"

-413-

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Quest for the Presidency, 1992
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • I - A Quiet National Crisis 1
  • 1 - The Autumn of a President 3
  • 2 - The Age of Anxiety 11
  • 3 - The Winds of Rebellion 20
  • II - The Challenger 29
  • 4 - The Man Who Would Be President 31
  • 5 - Waiting for Godot 48
  • 6 - The Look of a Winner 73
  • 7 - The Scent of a Woman 89
  • 8 - The Comeback Kid 126
  • 9 - Goin' Home 156
  • 10 - The Downside of Charisma 185
  • 11 - The Doom Crier 208
  • 12 - The Manhattan Project 245
  • 13 - The Man from Hope 269
  • III - The President 295
  • 14 - Where Was George? 297
  • 15 - The War against the Crown 318
  • 16 - The Last Inaction Hero 341
  • 17 - He Doesn't Get It 358
  • 18 - The Quayle Hunt 368
  • 19 - The Return of Little Brother 387
  • 20 - This Way to the Jihad 398
  • IV - The Billionaire 411
  • 21 - Citizen Perot 413
  • 22 - The Age of Innocence 424
  • 23 - The War of the Worlds 436
  • 24 - Point Counterpoint 449
  • 25 - The Long Goodbye 463
  • V - The Choice 481
  • 26 - The Boys on the Bus 483
  • 27 - The Search for a Silver Bullet 508
  • 28 - The Second Coming 538
  • 29 - Nine Days in October 553
  • 30 - To the Wire 579
  • Appendix - The Campaign Papers 615
  • Index 736
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