Perot Straw Poll
Jude Wanniski
July 31, 1996

 

Memo To: Jack Kemp
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Perot Straw Poll

Did you see that of the 1.3 million ballots sent out by the Reform Party, only 43,058 were returned, with Perot winning 27,833 or 65% of those, Lamm getting 28%, others 8%? Can you imagine what would have happened if you had agreed to have your name go out on the straw poll? My guess and the guessing of some of the Perot people is that the returns would have been much, much higher, easily doubled, and that you would have topped the list. If you take into account the fact that Perot did not announce his candidacy until it was clear that only Lamm would be on the list if he did not, I think it is clear that you would have swamped a declared Lamm and an undeclared Perot in the balloting. I agree with your reasoning on why you did not wish to appear on a straw poll of only three names at a time when it still appeared that Dole might be able to close the enormous gap he faces against Clinton. The numbers, though, support my argument to you that the straw poll was legitimate, not one that would be rigged by Perot, and that Perot was for all practical purposes offering you the Reform Party nomination. I took Ross at his word that he did not want to be the nominee if others came forward to play on his Field of Dreams that he was "too scarred" to be viable. Under the rules the Reform Party set up for the nomination, it is now too late for you to be the presidential nominee. You really should consider the possibility that Perot may offer you the vice presidential nomination of the party if, as he should, win the nomination over Lamm. He will not have to choose his running mate until after the GOP convention. At that point, if it is absolutely clear that Dole has failed to unify the party and that he is DO A as the nominee, I think you would have to seriously consider joining Perot, offsetting the scars he has accumulated as an amateur against the establishment pros.