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How Perot '92 Will Affect Election 2012

It's made more difficult since Perot because the parties have been very good at inoculating themselves since Perot. They've come up with a vaccine against effective third-party runs. They've made some of the state rules for third parties require earlier deadlines if you're going to be on the ballot. In some cases they've made it so you can't change the candidate that you put on the ballot. They've changed the minimum numbers for the national debates so you have to poll a certain amount -- because Perot scored so well in the first debate that he moved up in the polls.

The two parties have changed the rules so that you have to show your hand early in the election so that they have a chance to beat you up along the way.

Getting on all 50 state ballots is an arcane procedure. You have to spend some money and you have to get a certain amount of signatures to get your name on the ballot in certain states. If you do that, you're going to be on everybody's radar. If Steve Forbes had not run as a Republican and was seen as an independent or if New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was out there today saying he had no intention of running but wanted to keep his name on the ballot just in case the country fell into a calamitous situation, he'd be talked about daily.

It's hard to be a self-candidate.

Portions of Perot's economic platform, especially his focus on the deficit, are still very much in vogue in 2012. Did Perot's ideas have any impact at all?

Barta: It's back with us, the deficit he called "the crazy aunt in the basement." It went away with Clinton as a result of Perot's campaign. He impacted the Clinton's presidency and Congress as well, because there was an effort to eliminate the deficit. Now it's returned.

From that standpoint, he was successful in achieving that goal even though he wasn't the one to do it. It resulted, I think, from his presidential campaign. He put it on the table, and that's what third-party candidates do: They put issues on the table that the mainstream candidate or whoever's elected picks up because they've identified those issues.

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