Perot's TV ad focuses on economy

October 07, 1992|By Susan Baer | Susan Baer,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Independent presidential candidate Ross Perot made his commercial TV debut last night, outlining his grim report card on the state of the economy and renewing his attack on the "mess" in Washington, but leaving his solutions for another time.

In the 30-minute advertisement, aired on CBS right before last night's National League baseball playoff game, Mr. Perot sailed through a roster of economic woes with the folksy, no-nonsense, plain talk that first endeared him to hordes of frustrated voters.

"To use Washington terminology, we're in deep voodoo, folks," he said, sitting at a desk with an American flag in the background.

The maverick Texas billionaire, who spent $380,000 to air last night's half-hour 'infomercial," called this his first town hall. But the low-tech, low-glitz segment looked more like a lecture hall, with Mr. Perot, pointer in hand, flipping through a dizzying parade of pie charts and graphs, facts and figures, many of them from his best-selling paperback "United We Stand."

Using his oft-repeated metaphor of getting under the hood to fix the country's economic engine, he said, "I can tell you before we look at the engine, an engine tune-up won't fix it. We're going to have to do a major overhaul."

But while he painted a convincing picture of the nation's deep financial troubles -- touching on everything from the soaring deficit to the decline in jobs to the poverty rate -- he offered no hints of the bitter medicine, the steep tax increases and spending cuts, he's prescribed as a solution. At the end of his ad he suggested that in upcoming spots he would "define the solution."

Never timid about attacking the Washington establishment, he took every opportunity to take a jab at government, saying the main cause of the nation's problems is a system in which bureaucrats leave public service to "cash in" and peddle their influence.

"Now this will break your heart, this is like a general switching armies in the middle of a war. They should come to serve and go home, not cash in."

Mr. Perot whose 11th-hour presidential campaign is likely to focus almost exclusively on paid media and carefully-selected TV interview shows, is expected to spend about $1 million on TV ads this week.

A second half-hour ad is scheduled to air Friday night at 9:30 on ABC, and campaign officials said 30- and 60-second spots will begin airing on the major networks tomorrow.

The saturation advertising may be too late, however. Polls released this week show the candidate to be lagging badly, with no signs that his reactivated candidacy is gaining support. An NBC News poll released last night showed only one in 10 voters supporting Mr. Perot.

He alluded to the strains of his unconventional political odyssey in last night's spot, saying he was willing to put himself and his family through the campaign process for the children living in poverty. But, he said, "Not a single minute of this is pleasant. There's not a single second of this that anybody would do for fun."

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