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story.lead_photo.caption Then-President George H.W. Bush (from left), H. Ross Perot and then-Democratic nominee Bill Clinton take part in a presidential debate in Richmond, Va., on Oct. 15, 1992.

Even with a native son on the presidential ballot, roughly one out of every 10 Arkansas voters ended up supporting another candidate, H. Ross Perot, when they went to the polls on Nov. 3, 1992.

The Texarkana, Texas, native, who died Tuesday at age 89, didn't gain as much traction in the Natural State as he did nationally.

Still, Perot garnered 99,132 votes, 10.4 percent, in Arkansas, the best showing by a third-party candidate since George Wallace's 38.7 percent in 1968. Bill Clinton -- a native of Hope, just up the road from Texarkana -- won the Arkansas ballot with 505,823 votes.

Like other Americans, many Arkansans were initially fascinated by the long-shot bid of Perot, a billionaire businessman.

In March 1992, after Perot supporters unveiled a toll-free number, more than 2,000 Arkansans phoned in to express interest in the campaign, according to organizers.

And soon, a draft-Perot campaign was in full swing.

[RELATED: Ex-presidential candidate Perot dies at 89 »]

Perot's campaign in Arkansas may have peaked on May 30, 1992, in Little Rock.

That's the day he signed the paperwork securing a place on the state's ballot as an independent candidate.

Speaking to a crowd of 3,000 people at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, Perot called the presidency "a dirty, thankless, brutal job."

It was a task he did not relish, he maintained.

"If we're at that point in our history, I'm ready to climb in the ring as long as you're there with me," he said. "It's not going to be much of a place for sissies, though, to get from where we are to where we're going. I'll tell you that straight out."

Ultimately, Perot would back out of the race, only to return for its closing days.

Many of those who had welcomed his candidacy early on ultimately voted for Clinton or incumbent President George H.W. Bush, with Clinton winning his first term.

Nationwide, Perot finished with 18.9 percent.

In Arkansas, he ran strongest in Marion County, where he received 21.3 percent of the vote. In the state's other 74 counties, he fared no better than 18.7 percent. Perot fared poorest in Crittenden County, falling short of 5 percent.

In Miller County, which includes Texarkana, Ark., the former Texarkana Gazette paper boy and Eagle Scout got 15.4 percent.

As a member of Bush's administration, U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., opposed Perot's 1992 bid.

But he nonetheless knew and respected the Texas outsider.

"I've always admired Mr. Perot's business acumen, his entrepreneurship [and] admired his patriotism," the lawmaker from Little Rock said Tuesday.

Perot had leadership skills that helped him succeed over the years, Hill said.

"He was organized. He was disciplined," Hill said. "He knew how to set a goal and set a mission and accomplish that mission."

A Section on 07/10/2019

Print Headline: Perot received 10.4% of state's vote in '92 presidential election


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