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Transcript: Ross Perot discusses the Clinton scandal on Larry King Live

Aired September 30, 1998 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Ross Perot joins me for his first interview on the Clinton scandal since the president gave depositions. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. We thank Greta Van Susteren for sitting in last night, it was the eve, of course of the Yom Kippur observance. And we're back tonight. And our special guest for the full hour is Ross Perot; no stranger to this program, the founder of the Reform Party. We have heard from everyone else on what we might call the affair of President Clinton. We're going to hear from Ross tonight for the full hour with your phone calls. He made a speech at the Reform Party's annual convention this past Saturday. Before we begin the questioning, Ross said he wanted to just make his position clear. Go.

ROSS PEROT, FOUNDER, REFORM PARTY: Well, I hate this whole issue. And I hoped it would go away because it's having a devastating impact on our country and particularly on our children. The moral and ethical standards of every child in, junior high school, high school and the young people in college have taken a dramatic drop.

When the leader of our country, one of the most powerful men in the world, does absolutely improper sexual things and lies about it, that sends a message to young people that the finest parents in the world will have to scramble for months or even years to correct. The president of the United States should set the highest example for our young people and his erratic behavior has done tremendous internal damage to the moral base of our country.

In my position I can sum with these words, I think it's plain that the president should resign and spare the country the agony of impeachment and removal proceedings. It's a long, slow process. I think the country would be spared a lot of agony if the president would go on and resign. And one last comment. There's no point putting this country through an impeachment, since the president doesn't make any pretense of innocence now. Now, that's my position. But those are not my words. President Clinton spoke those words in 1974 when they were impeaching Nixon. And that sums it up.

KING: What, in your opinion, what part does character play?

PEROT: Everything.

KING: Everything?

PEROT: Everything. Our president -- look our first president was a man who could not tell a lie.

KING: As the story goes.

PEROT: No. But I mean, keep in mind you and I grew up with that. That was a good thing for us to know. And he was man of very high principles, very high ethics. Now 200 years later we have a president that cannot tell the truth.

KING: How about those who say most politicians lie, and it's probably a pretty good bet, maybe not under oath, that most presidents have lied or hid the truth, true? Probably good guess.

PEROT: I don't think so. We have had wonderful people -- I have said again and again and again -- by and large, I think we have good people in Washington. They're trapped in a bad system. And we have got to change the system. Campaigns goes on too long. They cost too much. That corrupts the system and the desire for money. Clinton -- the thing is not even up yet and the biggest charge against Clinton and common cause brought it to court in the '96 election, criminal charges, hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal contributions. Now that's...

KING: Still being looked at?

PEROT: And very, very slowly because that is the sledgehammer criminal charge, but the point is all of that is triggered because of the cost of the campaigns.

KING: If you had a CEO for your company who tripled profits, employees were happy, the company was never held in better standings, but he had a particular problem, and that problem dealt maybe with girls or interns, would you fire him?

PEROT: Let's assume I caught him in the office having phone sex with a vulnerable young woman...

KING: Correct.

PEROT: ... that had come into our company as an intern.

KING: Yes, so.

PEROT: He's gotten her to say things that'll arouse him and stimulate him and he's in the process of finishing the process himself.

KING: Correct? You fire him.

PEROT: Yes with very few words...


PEROT: ... like "get out of here."

KING: Because? Because?

PEROT: Because a leader must set the standards and a leader of our country absolutely...

KING: Are we entitled to his privacy though? I mean you happened to open the door and you found him in the office.

PEROT: No. He is...

KING: Not entitled?

PEROT: Larry, absolutely not. When he took that office he knew he had lost his privacy. Now let's assume every bad habit he had. First let's just talk about this in the big picture. Everything a person does is controlled by his brain.

KING: Correct.

PEROT: The brain -- it's the most complicated computer in the world. For example you and I can't see until the message goes to the brain.

KING: Correct.

PEROT: When we smell something we don't smell until in our heart tells what it is.

KING: The heart is pumping. The brain...

PEROT: The heart, breathing, learning to move. Now, brain learns, when we were very small we couldn't walk. The brain learned how to let us walk. Then if you're an acrobatic, the brain learned how to let you do all kinds of tricks.

KING: But the brain gave us obsessions, and it gave us bad things. It gave us torment, it gave us difficulty, it gave us conflict. All of those things. I don't mean to interrupt you.

PEROT: No, no, no. That's great. That's all part of life, see? Now, then, typically let's take a good example. When you and I were small our parents said don't touch the stove you'll get burned. Normally you and I have to touch it once, but then the brain says don't touch the stove again.

KING: Right. We learn.

PEROT: Let's assume you have a bad habit, you used drugs. And he did. And I have said publicly, if he'll deny that under oath in an atmosphere where he does 20 years in jail, then I'll say he didn't. Then I will go on that same place and I will go under oath about drugs and if I don't tell the truth I do 20 years.

KING: You don't believe someone can be addicted, that it's not their fault.

PEROT: I don't care whether it's his fault or not -- yes it's your fault. You have to take responsibility for your own actions in a free society. Stay with me. Your brain goes through these processes. Now, parts of his brain work well, and parts don't work well at all. If his brain was working correctly, the second or third time he inflicted terrible pain on his family by his extramarital affairs, it would be like three touches on the stove, right, and he'd quit it? But he doesn't quit it, even though he knows it inflicts tremendous pain on the people he loves.

KING: What does that tell you him, then?

PEROT: It tells me he's unfit to be president.

KING: Unfit to be president...

PEROT: Absolutely unfit to be president.

KING: ... because he's unfit to be a husband. What if he wife forgives him?

PEROT: I hope she will. But the point is we have big things at stake here. We have got to have a strong stable person. Let's look at qualities we like to have: honest, trustworthy and loyal. His brain never got wired in those areas.


No. Seriously, just boom. I don't know anybody that would do the damage to his close friends that he did by lying to them and then having them go out on the point and lie for him. This man cannot be in charge of our country. He cannot be the person that can make the decision to send our sons and daughters to war.

Now this is where my mind really focuses and he certainly, as erratic as his behavior is, cannot be the person to press the nuclear button. Now let's assume he's a Rhodes scholar, and he's as smart as we all know he is in parts of his brain. What causes the other parts to gyrate around?

KING: What does?

PEROT: Either there are real problems up there, or there's one other way to get your brain to act crazy from time to time. It's called drugs.

KING: You're implying something that...

PEROT: I am not implying. I am just saying there's one other way. I really feel very strong. Now, let's go back to the early -- after the '92 election. He had all these White House staffers that couldn't get a security clearance because they'd used drugs. And so, you know, he kind of waived the security clearances and brushed it aside. But this is '60s children coming in.

KING: You don't know for a fact that he uses drugs?

PEROT: Well, let me say this.

KING: You're taking a guess, based on behavior.

PEROT: If you just listen to all of his friends from Arkansas that, you know, come over and love to tell Clinton stories, you have to feel like there was something funny going on. Here's what -- no, let's do this. We're talking about the man that can press the nuclear button. If a captain, who was flying a B-52 had some of his problems like just the womanizing problem, he'd be taken off the plane because there are two or three bombs on them. This guy can move them on. He's got to be mentally stable and he's not.

KING: Let me take a break...

PEROT: Now we've got to figure out why or he's (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: ... and we'll come right back. Let me get a break, Ross. You're here for the whole hour.

PEROT: Excuse me.

KING: We'll be back with Mr. Perot. We'll try to draw him out in the next segment. Don't go away.



KING: You know, he can't sue you, Ross, and you did run for president against him. In fact, we'll get to this later -- you may have elected him, because you were away ahead in the poll and it was getting close. And then you left and he came up. Agreed, had you not run, George Bush might well have beaten him in '92?

PEROT: You just uttered the Republican's favorite words, but they're wrong.

KING: OK, you don't...

PEROT: No, forget what I think. Forget the exit polls. And the American people were ask, "Who would you have voted for, if you'd voted your conscience?" And the majority said they would have voted for me, I would have won the election. And they said, "Well, then we didn't you vote for Perot?" They said, "We'd been told so many time he couldn't win and we wanted to vote for a winner." Now, I drew equally from both candidates. Those are the facts.

KING: OK, now, speaking of facts, the drug allegation; that's a -- he can't sue you. He's a public figure.

PEROT: All I'm asking him to do.

KING: You're putting him in a position -- it's a no-win position to charge someone...

PEROT: Excuse me.

KING: ... that the possibility of drugs.

PEROT: I -- no. Ask him to make his medical records public.

KING: They are, aren't they?

PEROT: No, no. Back when he was governor and so on and so forth. Ask him to make the medical records public. Then, ask him to go under oath and just say "I have or have not used drugs since I have been in public life."

KING: Well, let's say he did that, for whatever the situation.

PEROT: If he did that, I don't think it would be that -- let me say this: There is a lot stuff.

KING: Are you saying you know this?

PEROT: I'm saying -- well, let me give you -- this is not really the best evidence, but let me just show you the world he lives this. They had a member of the Cali Cartel, a guy named Jorge, J-O-R-G-E, Cabrero (ph), to a fund-raiser in Florida, and then to a fund-raiser at the White House. Now, you don't get into the White House until you get screened. And there is no way, since everybody knew this guy was a member of the Cali Cartel, that they didn't...

KING: Colombian cartel?


KING: You know this for a fact, that he was and he got into two places.

PEROT: He got into the White House. He gave them the big money they were after, and then when all this story blew up and it hit the papers -- this has been in the papers -- they sent him his money back.

KING: All right, so they could have said, "We didn't know who it was...

PEROT: Now, wait just a minute. Wait just a minute, Larry. This is trying to get away with it and getting caught. That's the story of his life. Now, here's another. Here is a Russian drug dealer, arms smuggler, on and on and on and on. And this guy was given an invitation to the White House -- excuse me -- to a fund- raiser in Washington. And there is the original letter inviting him. This guy is an arms smuggler, a drug dealer, and he also smuggles nuclear weapons and Scud missiles. And...

KING: This is a letter from the Democratic National Committee in 1995, from Richard Sullivan (ph), the finance director, inviting him to have -- inviting Gregorgi Lutofski (ph), president of the Nordesk Corporation, to have dinner with President Clinton at the Ha' Adams Hotel (ph), in Washington.

PEROT: And there they are together. Now, you don't get to go into the room with the president...

KING: This is who you're...

PEROT: ... until the Secret Service has screened you. And the Secret Service, there have been articles in a number of our major publications about these two things. These have all been in the paper.

KING: All right -- let's get back...

PEROT: My point being, we have got erratic behavior by the president. All right, either he's got mental troubles, or he does something like take drugs to spin him out from time to time.

KING: How do you react to Jim Carville, who said about you: "A man that would be sure to be able to recognize mental and emotional instability as you, you're a half a quart low.

PEROT: Well, first...

KING: That's Jim Carville referring to you, saying that you're not...

PEROT: I never dreamed that the president of the United States would have an attack team that goes out and destroys anybody that criticizes the president. And I certainly never dreamed that he would -- the president of the United States, since a man is known by the company he keeps, would surround himself by people like Carville. Now, just look at that. If this is...

KING: Well, Carville's his friend.

PEROT: May I finish?

KING: Yes.

PEROT: If he's commander-in-chief -- this is the man who can send your sons and daughters off to war, and this is his hit man. Did you think the president would have a hit man? Now, then he comes out and says I'm a quart low. Well, frankly, I like that comment, because down in Texas and in Louisiana, where Carville came from, we're talking about oil. You mean, you're a quart low? And I'm delighted not to be as oily as Carville and Clinton. So I take that as a compliment.

KING: But when you say point men, are you saying the president should not respond to attacks?

PEROT: Well, you got Dick Morris, saying today that he had a small police squad going around intimidating women.

KING: But Dick Morris is of the low character you would fire?

PEROT: Absolutely. But, I mean, these are the people he surrounds himself with to do the dirty work. And I find that obscene. And I think that anybody that does that -- it's another good reason why he should leave quietly and quickly.

KING: OK, back to privacy.

PEROT: What about our children, Larry? What about the morals and ethics, he should -- the president's a man they should look up to. When teenagers, how -- frankly, I was grown before I ever heard the words "oral sex."

Now I grew up with Texas cowboys and what-have-you, I thought I'd heard it all. But I was grown before I heard that. Every 8-year-old in the country now has heard of it. And at the high school and the college level, you know it's the buzz. And it is so wrong that they were taught that by the president of the United States, and that he was unfaithful to his wife.

KING: With what you know, do you now think much less of John Kennedy?


KING: You do?

PEROT: Now, if John Kennedy had lived and all of this would have come out, he would have been impeached like that.

KING: Do you think lesser of Clinton, because of the age and position of Ms. Lewinsky, that she was -- supposing it were a woman of are 45-50 years old who he met in a hotel and who worked for company in Detroit?

PEROT: I think it's totally disgusting that you'd take advantage of a vulnerable -- young woman and just manipulate her and use her like a toy. And that's exactly what he did. Now, that man shouldn't be anywhere around, giving orders to send our troops into combat.

KING: Why is he so popular?

PEROT: He's not. That's one of the myths.

KING: He's not? The polls are all wrong?

PEROT: No, siree. You're going to see -- that change dramatically.

KING: When?

PEROT: Because -- just stand by. You'll see it. Sooner or later the American people will wake up. All they have heard is, "Let's forgive, let's forgive." The Bible tells us to forgive. It's the silliest stuff I have ever heard on television. That's why I have finally spoken out, because...

KING: I was going to ask you why it took you so long.

PEROT: Now, we just found a guy here, he's robbed three banks, he's gotten away with it, everybody loves him, he's a pillar of the community, he is the smoothest, slickest guy you ever met, but we got him on videotape. Now, Larry, let's just forgive him. You'd say, "Well, let's forgive him, but let's send him to jail, too. You have to be held accountable for your improper acts. Let's forgive, but also sit...

KING: Robbing a bank is not sleeping with an intern.

PEROT: Well, it's just as bad.

KING: Just as bad?

PEROT: I would much -- I consider it -- robbing a bank is stealing money. Doing what he did is stolen that girl's life. And I consider a life a lot more important than money. That girl's life is destroyed by a man who should have -- I would like to think he had more to do than to play games like this. Now, it's just inexcusable that he would do that. And I am totally convinced that the American people are going to wake up and understand that.

And I'm going to do whatever I can, constructively, to say, wake up, America. Because, look, Larry, we have a leaderless country now. We're going through a long, tedious procedure. We have got an international monetary instability and possible meltdown. We've got a trillion dollar problem in the Japanese banks alone. Russia has melted down.

We've got odd stuff happening on Wall Street. This $3.6 billion bailout that happened the other day came as a total surprise. Then, North Korea is firing missiles that have a range that would allow them to fire them at either Hawaii or Alaska. They have that range. India and Pakistan are showing off that they can do nuclear weapons.

KING: I got get a break.

PEROT: Now you can go on and on here.

KING: The president, by the way -- he was going to visit Japan -- he's going to visit Japan and South Korea in November, instead of India and Pakistan, because of the conflict there. We'll be right back with more of Ross Perot. We'll ask about the plus of -- he brought up deficit spending, we now have a surplus in the budget -- Who gets credit for that? -- After this.


KING: OK, President Clinton announced today -- celebrated the first U.S. budget surplus in 29 years, said, quote, "It totally debunks the defeatists who believed it could not happen." You were the person in '92 who said it could happen if you focus on it. Both President Bush and candidate Clinton agreed with you. Didn't he pull it off? Do you give him credit for that?

PEROT: Well, let's -- the thing -- yes, we have balanced the budget. But here's the thing they never do is tell the American people the truth. We're back to the fundamentals. First, he gave the Democrats all the credit; that's not fair. The Republicans were a key part in getting that done. So both parties worked on it. And the independent voters played a huge role in keeping the pressure on to get that done. I don't care who gets the credit for it, but here's what they don't tell you at all. For years I have shown a chart that showed if we didn't do anything the budget would balance itself by the year 2002. But this chart -- and this is a government chart from the Office of Management and Budget...

KING: We've all seen it.

PEROT: ... takes off like a rocket...

KING: After that.

PEROT: ... after the year 2000. We -- they were forecasting that the deficit in the year 2020 would be $1.4 trillion a year.

KING: But that...

PEROT: ... and in the year 2030 $4.1 trillion, so it just goes like this. So we're bouncing through it. Now while we're down here, we should be doing everything we can to fix Social Security and all these things that cause these problems, and we're not doing anything, and guess what? If we kept books in a proper way we wouldn't have a balanced budget. They put Social Security in there like it was money for the budget. It's money for the trust fund, right?

KING: What took you so long, in this controversy, to speak out?

PEROT: Because I thought the American people would see this, and there would be so much pressure on the president he would resign. Then the economic stability in our country, and the international instability, and the problems in Russia, and the problems around the world -- a combination of all of these things -- if this man had any conscience at all -- he is putting the lives of millions of people -- the economic lives -- and the well-being of millions of people at risk because of his ego.

KING: But that was true a month ago. I mean, why now for Ross Perot? Why you now?

PEROT: Because I kept thinking that -- you know, as all of this came...

KING: You thought he'd resign.

PEROT: He would resign and realize that it was in the best interests. He says he's staying for his legacy. His legacy is, is that he lowered the standards of morals and ethics in this country the way no man ever has in the past, for our children and the young people in our country. His legacy is he let all his friends down.

KING: What's wrong...

PEROT: His legacy is that he let his family down. He let his country down. Now, I had to go public because we cannot be leaderless in a ship without a rudder right now. We have got to focus on these problems and get them resolved, because if we don't, it can take us a long time to recover. For example, like, you know, when the crash of '29 occurred, it was there till World War II started, right?

KING: Correct.

PEROT: And I grew up in it. You were there. You know, it was tough. And we don't want to repeat that. And for him to try to hang on to power and that -- see, that's -- again, that's an erratic part of his brain; he wants power. He has lust for power as well as some others.

KING: Would censure satisfy you?


KING: Because.

PEROT: This man is irresponsible in office.

KING: But if it's making a statement, though: "You are...

PEROT: He is irresponsible. No. No, no, no. This is like saying to a -- if a police chief had done this to a young policewoman, he'd be gone. If a principal of a school had done this to a teaching assistant, he'd be gone. What kind of message does this send to our country? Here is a man who should set the highest example, who's totally out of control, who is mentally unstable, either his brain is bad or he's taking something that makes it crazy periodically -- you take your choice -- but the record is there. He's got to go and go fast.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Ross Perot. In the second half of the program we'll be including your phone calls. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Bob Schieffer and Gloria Borger tomorrow night, plus Roseanne. By the way, Mr. Carville will be here, I think, in about 10 days. Don't go away.


KING: In about five minutes, we'll begin taking your calls for Ross Perot. His first appearance since all of this began. How about those on the other side who say, "Granted a lot of what you said may be true, but $50 million for an investigation? Almost $5 million on the Lewinsky thing alone?" You are certainly someone who thinks about money.

PEROT: I don't like to waste money but that's not -- it's my understanding he spent that much money on his poster boy trip to China. Does that put it in perspective?

KING: You mean $5 million?

PEROT: No. No.

KING: $50 million?

PEROT: I'm told it was up in that range; that's what I read. Now I don't know. We can find out tomorrow, but that trip to China with all of his business associates and all the people he took along -- and anytime you fly Air Force One you're spending big bucks. For example, only in America would he fly, say, from Washington, D.C. out to Chicago for a Democratic fund-raiser in Air Force One. Number one, we don't need Air Force One. The Cold War is over. Get a Gulf Stream. Get a Learjet. I mean, this is the people's money, Larry. You don't do that.

KING: The Democratic Party pays for that trip if it's for the Democrats.

PEROT: Believe me, they don't pay $1,250,000 per leg. It costs $1,250,000 every time you take off and land on Air Force One.

KING: You're kidding.

PEROT: Government numbers. I've been quoting those since 1952. If you look at the air wing that supports Air Force One, and the number of people in it -- there's thousands of people in that...

KING: So you're saying Ken Starr's money was a pig in a poke?

PEROT: I'm just saying this is classic Clinton spin. Now let's just go down and look at how much he wastes every year on his running around. See this guy is desperate for attention. He will do anything for attention and acceptance. I mean if it's 10 fund-raisers a night and so on -- I wish he'd quit going to fund-raisers and focus on the monetary crisis. I wish he'd quit going to fund-raisers and focus on these international problems we talked about.

KING: What about Ken Starr, though? If he is a man that's tunnel-visioned, that's out to get a man, isn't there -- isn't that a deterrent?

PEROT: First, that is the image that's projected of Mr. Starr. I don't know Mr. Starr. I don't know anything about Mr. Starr. And I know this: that will be the image that everybody has projected about me, because anybody that gets in Clinton's way gets shredded. And I don't mean just criticized; they put the shredder out there, and he's got his attack team, and -- they were talking about it in the papers yesterday -- the attack team is now meeting every morning. They listed the names in the papers; the guys on the attack team. I can't imagine that a president of the United States would want an attack team. I can't imagine that he'd want a group of policemen to go around and intimidate the women he'd molested in the past.

KING: How about those who are saying that Miss Lewinsky says she bears a lot of the blame, that she was the one that was doing the aggressiveness?

PEROT: Miss Lewinsky is not innocent of blame. But here is a young vulnerable woman, here's the most powerful man in the world. What he should have done, the first time anything came up like this, if he didn't initiate it, is escort her out of the office, turn her over to his staff, have her removed from the White House, call her parents, and explain to her that this young lady has a problem.

KING: You'd have done that.

PEROT: Absolutely.

KING: If you were president.

PEROT: Oh, gosh! Larry...

KING: I know you Ross, that's what you would have done: call her parents?

PEROT: That's all you could have done. And called her parents to make sure they took care of her. Now, the games they have played around this woman, and the way they've tried to threaten her manipulate her, and they way they've tried to threaten her, and they'd, you know, and they'd move her to the Pentagon, they move her to New York, and Clinton's friends are trying to take care of her, and keep her quiet, and what have you, and here's this vulnerable young woman, who just got herself into a mess. Now her life is shredded but he wants to go on because of his legacy. She is his legacy.

KING: We'll be back with your phone calls for Ross Perot on LARRY KING LIVE right after this.


KING: We're back with the full hour with man who changed American politics back in 1992. It happened on this show when he ran for office. At one time he had led in all the polls. At one time was 20 percent ahead of Bill Clinton -- the founder of the Reform Party. We're going to go to your candidates.

Are you going to try to be a candidate again?

PEROT: I have never wanted to be a candidate.

KING: I know. But might you be?

PEROT: I don't want to.

KING: Let's not good through this again, Ross.

PEROT: My dream is we get our country's problem solved. I don't want to be out there having to do it. But in other words, if I had to sleep under bridge for the rest of my life to see that my children and grandchildren had a better life, we are live leaving our children and grandchildren a mess, and that's what motivates me.

KING: Won't you therefore seek it again...

PEROT: Hopefully it won't even come up.

KING: Will the Reform Party nominate a candidate?

PEROT: Let me say this. If somebody wants to get rid of me, if Clinton resigns, I won't run again.

KING: That's a promise?

PEROT: Oh, boy. I'll start begging him.

KING: Will the Reform Party nominate someone?

PEROT: Of course they will, sure.

KING: OK. Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello, Mr. Perot.

KING: Hi. Go ahead.

CALLER: OK. I am a commissioned officer in the Air Force and sir, I realize, of course, you were in the Navy, commissioned as well. I think one of the things that America -- the vast majority of Americans don't realize is that if you or I or any member of the military were caught in the same situation the president was we'd be at Leavenworth breaking rocks we'd lose our retirement. We'd be convicted felons. And yet, I know even though that the president is a civilian member in the chain of command, yet he still tried to use parts of the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act to avoid some prosecution problems in the Jones case.

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: Yes. How do you feel that he can justify staying in and leading the military and members of Congress backing him as well?

KING: The president and the military.

PEROT: You can't. As far as I am concerned, if I were president and I'd done something like this and the fact that I could skate around it because it didn't conform to military law, I would voluntarily submit to military law because I was the commander-in- chief. And any president worthy of that office would do that.

Secondly, you're taught duty, honor, country. You're taught when honor is involved, be deaf to expediency. All right? On duty, honor and country, Clinton's got an F. When honor's involved, he doesn't understand it. You -- these things that are the core of making our military work, he doesn't even grasp and yet, he can send our men and women into combat and 99 percent of the reason I am here is because of that.

And the reason that drive is so strong with me is all the great friends that I had that were lost in combat that their wives and children had to go forward without husbands. It's -- exacts a terrible price. Now to everybody in this audience, as you're thinking about whether or not this president is worthy of being president and you have never been around war -- understand that war is fighting, bleeding and dying.

It's not a Super Bowl. Go see "Saving Private Ryan" then ask yourself, is this a man worthy of being able to start a nuclear war or send our sons and daughters to war and shouldn't he leave immediately.

KING: Ross, all because of sex?

PEROT: It's not all because of sex. Lying. Now, if you lie in the military, that's a court-martial offense. Now, wait. Lie under oath? Heck with under oath. If you lie, you go. You follow me? He's the commander-in-chief. He goes.

KING: Have you ever lied?

PEROT: Of course in my life, I have. Let me say this, since my -- as a child, you know, you grow up and your parents teach you all that. But I make it a point to just tell the straight truth and I try to live in the center of the field of the ethical behavior, and I hate to see the president of the United States running up and down the sidelines surrounded by lawyers never saying is it right or wrong?

That's the center of the field. He's saying, is it legal or illegal? If you lie on something this important and you lie to your wife, that's just as -- it doesn't get worse than that. Lie to your children? It doesn't get worse than that. Lie to your closest friends who go out and lie for you? It doesn't get worse than that. This man can't be in that office.

KING: Pasadena, California, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello, Larry?


CALLER: My question for Ross is, I wanted to know what he thinks -- how he thinks NAFTA is going and is there any way he sees out of the Quagmire -- I see we're in NAFTA wise.

KING: You debated him on this show.

PEROT: It's worse than we thought it would be. We have got a huge trade deficit with Mexico. But here's the thing that drives me crazy. We have got $120 billion a year, according to "Fortune" magazine in drugs coming across the border from Mexico. It's the new route into the United States. This is chemical warfare against our children. And guess what, the DEA has been -- drug enforcement agency has been told to pull back because quote "Mexico needs the money." You want that guy in the White House? Then I am on a different planet.

KING: Jackson, Ohio. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: My question is for Mr. Perot.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: Mr. Perot, are you planning to organize a grassroots movement, for example like a march on Washington to demand Clinton's resignation? PEROT: Here's what we're thinking about doing. I want to get your reaction to it. I am making an appeal tonight to all the veterans who fought in combat and served in the armed fores in the United States -- you're in every city in the country. I want you to help them get organized. I want all the ministers, the churches, the synagogues, the temples, everybody to get organized that believes in high ethical moral standards for our children.

KING: And do what?

PEROT: I want to get the parents organized, I want to get the seniors in the middle of this thing. I want to get the small business owners, because 80 million people work for you. I want to get the community leaders. I want the 115 newspapers who have said Clinton should be out of there and should resign all organized and we're going to have the largest petition drive from the grassroots of America in history.

As you finish in your city, I want you to have a dignified petition turning-in ceremony. Then we'll collect them there. Then we're going to start a truck convoy on the West Coast have another one coming out of Texas, have another truck convoy coming out of Texas -- have another one coming out Florida, and probably a number of other locations.

And the truck convoy will get longer and longer, and as it approaches Washington it's going to be a big one. Again, we will have a dignified turning in ceremony and a candlelight vigil in Washington to get the message over that we expect a whole lot more from our president than this man has given us, and that for the sake of our children and for the sake of our country and for the sake of the world, please resign now.

KING: The petition is a request to resign?

PEROT: Yes. Dear Mr. President, please resign. Now then...

KING: You have got it all set up already, don't you.

PEROT: Here's ways to get into this. We're going to have a survey to see if you want to do it. And you send it www.perot.org. This is to everybody that's working with computers and on the Internet.

KING: He's back.



PEROT: If you want to send e-mail to talk about this, just send e-mail to Ross at ross.org. And finally when you send your petitions in, there are a lot of ways to send them in. Let's assume you send a petition in by mail. Send it to Ross Perot, PO BOX 9, Dallas, Texas, 75221. If you have forgotten everything I have said, if you can remember Post Office Box 975221 -- great. But I really want is to build that grassroots effort.

KING: You're going to have people all over the country?

PEROT: All over the country.

KING: Come into Washington? How -- this is going to take time.

PEROT: We're going to start now, and we'll be getting petitions signed through October. And I ask all of you on election day, I want you at the polling booths with those petitions. Because a lot of people will be coming through. We'll get them signed there. And early December, we'll have our turn in and have our ceremony in Washington. And keep in mind it doesn't take forever to do something like this. God created heavens and Earth in six days. So if you think it's important, you get good things done fast.

KING: So you're going to have a Christmas march to resign?

PEROT: Early December.

KING: We'll be back.

PEROT: Wait a minute. Christmas is late December. This is early December.

KING: We'll be back with Ross Perot. Don't go away.


KING: Before we scoff, remember it was but a scant, a little over six years ago that he announced the grassroots campaign on this program. We all know what happened. He is announcing it tonight -- petitions across America -- is this sponsored by the Reform Party?

PEROT: It's an independent -- no. This is just an independent operation. The Reform Party people are certainly welcome to participate. This is one that belongs to the American people. I want to give them a voice, Larry.

KING: You're putting up the wherewithal to do this? The trucks, the organization...

PEROT: The trucks will be the part, but 99 percent of the effort will be down at the grassroots. The real expense will be there.

KING: Do you expect some backlash over this? I mean you're a prominent figure in this country as politician and as a businessman. You're calling for -- this is a major thing. You're asking the public to ask him to resign. Don't you expect a little...

PEROT: You don't have to wonder. He attacks anybody that gets in his way. And if -- to have a president that is that predatory is another reason why he needs to be out of there. In a society -- a free society, there should be room for difference of opinion. They attack and intimidate everybody. You know they have gone to all of those congressmen and say if you guys don't pull back we're going to tell about your affairs, right? You know that -- that's all over Washington. It's sick.

KING: You're worried so much that because of threat to your daughter's wedding you left the race. If that worried you, wouldn't this worry you even more, what might happen? If the worry is real and not paranoiac...

PEROT: I cannot live with myself, I cannot sit here -- can you imagine how easy it would be for me just to stay on the sidelines? My family is bulletproof, but I can remember where I came from. I can remember all my parents taught me as a child and what they expected from me. They wouldn't want me to sit here. They'd expect me to do what is right. I think the country needs to get into that mood and do it. Here's the good news. Lou Harris (ph) did a survey shortly after my speech to the Reform Party that was on C-SPAN -- 68 percent of the people agreed with what I said -- that Clinton should resign.

If the American people ever get the straight facts and a dose of the truth -- they're smart. And they -- we have got to get the facts out to the American people that you can't have a commander in chief -- you can't have a man who can press the nuclear button -- if he'll do things like this to the people he loves the most, you and I have got to get out on the street for the people we love the most and let him see the other side of America. We've got to get those petitions signed and we've got to get a president that is worthy of the people and worthy of this great country.

KING: If fairness we'll have Ross repeat those numbers so that those of you who were not expecting this -- and I certainly wasn't expecting it -- can get a chance, if you wish to contact him. That's only fair. Another caller -- Honolulu, hello.

CALLER: Hi, yes, I am 17 years old and as a youth of America, I think that it's a poor excuse to justify himself a -- Albert Camus said, "to justify himself each relies on each other's crimes." And I think it is a poor excuse of everybody who says that all the other presidents -- that everybody does it.

KING: Do you have a question?

CALLER: Yes I do.

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: We should live up to those high standards. Like, I am proud of what Ross Perot is saying and I hope that all Americans.

KING: Do you have a question?

CALLER: Yes. What would it take -- I know you said you weren't going to run, but what would it take you to run again?

KING: That's a 17-year-old who says that blaming others is a poor way to do it.


KING: What would it take to get you to run again?

PEROT: Basically, whatever I can do to help my country move forward. The typical life of a free, democratic society is 200 years. Now we're 207 years old and Alexander Tightler (ph), the Scottish historian wrote all that out in 1789 and he tracked through where you go. You go from bondage to courage to liberty to freedom to abundance and then it tends to vote itself largess from the public treasury to the point where you go to decadence.

Now we have been to decadence once before in the 1920s. The roaring '20s we went down like this in terms of morals and an ethics. We paid a terrible price in 1929. It took 10 years to recover. Actually it was in World War II when we finally got back on our economic feet. Now we're repeating that pattern. We can't let it happen.

If you understand the economic cycles, if you understand the problems around the world and you understand that you've got to have strong, intelligent leaders who have discipline, self-control, and high ethics and moral standards -- I would rather have a guy that was just average intelligence, that was honest, than a genius that was out of control mentally.

KING: Are you saying because of this kind of approval of the president we are in decadence from one man? That we as a society are decadent?

PEROT: I'll tell you exactly what's happening to our society. Only in America would we have a network in prime time with a show about sex that every child could see. I just find that absolutely despicable. Sex is being presented as a new form of recreation, like volleyball or something and you know exactly what I am talking about. Then our children are being saturated with this -- these terrible things that the president has done. This is only the tip of the iceberg. The Paula Jones case -- pathetic.

KING: There are people who might think, Ross, that it's not pathetic -- sex may be a healthy thing. We may take a skew of it, but you may be called old-fashioned.

PEROT: No. The difference between human beings and rabbits is that we can think and reason. A rabbit is totally driven by his impulses. Unfortunately we've got a rabbit in the White House. The problem being, whatever his impulse, he does it. This guy came to Texas to a fund-raiser and all the rich and beautiful were there that back him. And he was -- just kept putting his hands on one man's wife until they walked out in disgust. This is after all -- this is recently.

KING: Recently.

PEROT: He just can't give it up.

KING: Let me take -- let me get a break. We'll be right back. We'll repeat those addresses for you too -- don't go away.


KING: If you joined us late, here are those addresses again, Ross.

PEROT: OK, we're going to have a survey to make sure the American people have the spirit and will to have a voice in this whole thing, and you're not manipulated by what you're reading and seeing day-in and day-out, saying "Oh, forgive him. Oh, people make mistakes."

Fill out your survey at www.perot.org. Now, if you want to mail in a petition, you can mail that petition in to Ross Perot, PO Box 9, Dallas, Texas, 75221. But, if you forget all of that, just remember Post Office Box 9, Dallas, Texas.

And finally, e-mail: you send e-mail to ross@perot.org. Now, we'll get organized. We will show them that we care about morals and ethics. We'll show them that we care about duty, honor and country. And, more than anything else, we'll show them that the man who sends our children into combat, and a man who can press the nuclear button has got to be a stable person who tells the truth.

KING: Let me get a call. We permitted Mr. Perot to repeat that because we did not expect that tonight. And late tuners-in are not going to besieging us tomorrow for these addresses.

Baltimore, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: My question is for Mr. Perot: Mr. Perot, I was wondering, you talked about a grassroots campaign to impeach the president.

KING: To get him to resign.

PEROT: Get him to resign.

CALLER: Wouldn't it be more worthwhile for you to do some grassroots campaigns to reduce drug use, raise money for education, other worthwhile causes other than embarrassing the president?

PEROT: The president embarrassed himself. Not now let me give you an example how gross this whole thing is. Shortly after the '92 election, one of his closest friends, and a guy that's had a lot of visibility around him, was at a group meeting with a bunch of business executives. And he drew himself up proudly and announced that sex was back in the White House, only he didn't use the word sex -- substitute a word for cat instead of sex, and the word begins with P and ends with Y. Now, that is so sick and so decadent that's -- you have got to start and solve problems at the source. You can't solve the drug problem if the president is not dedicated to getting it done. KING: Might have been a joke, Ross.

PEROT: He's the guy in control.

KING: Might have been just a joke.

PEROT: Well, it was a terrible joke. Let me say -- with friends like that, you don't need enemies, Larry. Now, let me say this...

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments right after this.


KING: OK, we only have about two minutes left. You started a campaign again tonight to get petitions signed. You're obviously back in the middle of this. You attended your Reform Party convention. It's logical to think that unless you're happy with the candidates, you're back on the scene in 90 -- in 2000.

PEROT: I've got a message for Democrat and every Republican: For God's sake, stand on principal, do the right thing for the country. And particularly for the Democrats, your whole party is threatened by what this man has done. For God's sakes, protect your party. And I see a lot of you kind of rallying around and being good sports and things like that, that earlier knew what you needed to do. Don't damage the Democratic Party in order to protect him.

Do what's right, stand on principal, and that would be the best possible thing for our country. Because in his job, it's not as though -- as I have said earlier, if he was working for me third shift in a hamburger stand and did that to somebody and his only job was to clean the sink, and he did that to a young women, I'd fire him that night. Now, it's a principal. And, certainly, when you're commander- in-chief, there is no alternative. Anybody that will abuse all of the people he loves, all the people around him, the nation and the world, so that he can have an emotional fling with a vulnerable young woman doesn't deserve to be in the White House.

KING: As I remember it, you are an admirer of Al Gore; are you not? I mean, publicly, you have praised him in the past?

PEROT: Al Gore is a decent man.

KING: So he would be a very...

PEROT: No -- my only concern, you know, I wouldn't have brought this up, but you did. He was right in the middle of that illegal fund-raising. But now, look, let's assume we've got to go through round two on the illegal fund-raising. Well, unfortunately, this is the mess we're in because of campaign financing. We have got to face it. We've got to clean it up.

KING: But both sides don't seem to be willing to clean it up. The Republicans don't...

PEROT: They don't want to clean it up, because they both did it. But the facts are, it's criminal violation of the law, and we need to face it and we need to clean it up because it corrupts our politics. Folks, we're never going to get this country straightened out if you just sit there in the lounge chair and let people tell you what to think. You have got to study the issues, gets facts, and then decide what is in the interest of our country, because I know that's what's in your heart.

But, let's face it, you and you are very gullible and we're easily manipulated. Let's go back to basics, let's go back to what your parents taught you, let's go back to right and wrong -- duty, honor, country -- the fundamentals in this country will have a great 21st century.

KING: We only have 30 seconds. Are you this black and white? There are no gray shadings in this to you; it's either right or wrong?

PEROT: I think -- talk to the guys that work with me. I think you'll -- I would prefer you get the answer from people who have worked with me for years.

KING: They would probably say you are? This is right; this is wrong, period. Right?

PEROT: Well, absolutely.

KING: You don't see the gray shades of life?

PEROT: No, I want to be, you know -- now...

KING: Look, we're running out of time.

PEROT: OK. But -- I'm totally against drugs. I had a great man that worked for me that had a serious back injury -- worked for me for years. And this -- and then he had the problem.

KING: We're going to be out of time.

PEROT: He couldn't be around the company, but I could certainly help him, and get him through rehab, and get him out. Certainly, I'd do -- you see that's...

KING: OK, I'm out of time.

PEROT: ... the difference between accountable and the Christian side, or the religious side.

KING: Thanks, Ross.

PEROT: Great, thank you.

KING: This Larry King in Los Angeles. Coming up next on NEWSSTAND: CNN & FORTUNE, a look at the 50 most powerful women in American business. That's next, stay tuned.

Thursday night on LARRY KING LIVE, on the eve of the release of more grand jury testimony, we'll discuss what the impact will be on the investigation of President Clinton. "Face the Nation's" Bob Schieffer and Gloria Borger will be our guest. Plus, the queen of domestic comedy has a new daytime talk show. She'll tell us about that and more. Roseanne, Thursday night 9:00 Eastern on CNN.



Perot launches grassroots campaign for Clinton's resignation (10-1-98)


Thursday, October 1, 1998

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