Ross Perot endorses Mitt Romney

He’s back — even if he didn’t bring any Power Point presentations with him this time around.  H. Ross Perot, who ran the most successful independent presidential bid in a generation, endorsed Mitt Romney in the Des Moines Register today, blasting the Obama administration’s reckless fiscal policies as he did:

The American economy is stagnant. Economic growth is insufficient to create enough jobs for a country whose population is growing. The result is unemployment stuck over 8 percent for every single month of Barack Obama’s presidency. We have 23 million Americans who are looking for work and either can’t find a full-time job, can’t find a job at all, or who have given up looking. That is wrong. It’s not the way America ought to be.

At the same time, and not unrelated, is the extraordinary explosion of federal deficits and federal debt. In the last four years during Obama’s presidency, he’s added around $5 trillion to our national debt, more than any previous president. This was accomplished by successive federal budgets that each ran deficits exceeding $1 trillion a year. It is this massive deficit spending that threatens to undermine our future standard of living. To pay for our government’s massive debts, Washington’s profligacy, our children and grandchildren will be paying interest and principal on the nation’s debt for untold years into the future. That is wrong. It’s not the way America ought to be.

Even as we have engaged in runaway domestic spending, the country has been put on the path to massive cuts in the defense budget. President Obama’s own Secretary of Defense has called the proposed cuts “devastating” to our nation’s security. History teaches that the price of military weakness always exceeds the price of preparedness. And yet at a moment when turbulence is sweeping critical regions of the world, we are increasingly unprepared. That is wrong. It’s not the way America ought to be. …

For the past four years, we have squandered one opportunity after the next to turn things around. The longer we delay acting, the steeper the price we will have to pay.

Perot has, for the most part, stayed out of politics since his second independent run for the top job in 1996.  He endorsed Romney in 2008 in the Republican primary, but his last foray into general-election endorsements was a last-minute announcement in 2000 of support for George W. Bush — which, knowing his animus toward the elder Bush, whom he once accused of attempting to sabotage his daughter’s wedding, was remarkable.  Perot’s only political activism these days is on fiscal reform, especially in entitlement programs.

Does Perot still carry any cachet among the independents that at one time adored his defiance toward the two major parties?  Thanks to his unique role in Bill Clinton’s first election in 1992, which Clinton won with only 43% of the popular vote, Perot has never been forgotten, but he’s been mostly quiet.  His Reform Party collapsed more than a decade ago, which means that he doesn’t have any formal organization in the field to march alongside Team Romney.  However, Perot might still have enough influence on non-aligned voters to expand Romney’s advantage, and put more pressure on Obama to fire up his own base to play catch-up.

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