Exclusive Clip: Perot Driven by 'Personal Dislike,’ Bush 41 Says

In an upcoming documentary, George H. W. Bush speculates on Ross Perot’s reason for his ’92 run.

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President George H. W. Bush, left, talks with independent candidate Ross Perot at the end of their second presidential debate on Oct. 15, 1992, in Richmond, Va. (Marcy Nighswander/AP - Pool)
President George H. W. Bush, left, talks with independent candidate Ross Perot at the end of their second presidential debate on Oct. 15, 1992, in Richmond, Va. (Marcy Nighswander/AP - Pool)

While it's widely acknowledged that H. Ross Perot's third-party candidacy in the 1992 presidential election contributed to the defeat of President George H. W. Bush by then-Gov. Bill Clinton, an upcoming documentary speculates on why Perot jumped into the race in the first place – or at least Team Bush's theory.

"I think he was driven by a personal dislike, a personal resentment of me, you might say," Bush says in an exclusive clip from "The Presidents' Gatekeepers," an upcoming two-part Discovery Channel documentary featuring all 20 living White House chiefs of staff and the presidents they served.

 

According to Bush and his former chief of staff James Baker, Perot's beef with Bush stems from a disagreement Perot had with President Ronald Reagan when Bush was Reagan's vice president. Bush agreed to tell Perot that Reagan had no reason to believe that there were Americans left in Vietnam, as Perot had been insisting.

"I think that Ross got pissed off and shot the messenger," says Baker, who also served as Reagan's chief of staff.

Bush echoes Baker's reasoning. "I think he took it very personally," he says, adding that before the incident, the fellow Texans had a warm relationship. "It got ugly and mean and I didn't like it at all."

"He did have an animus towards Bush 41 because of that episode," Baker says, though the two stop short of blaming the ordeal entirely for Perot's run.

"You'd have to ask Ross," Bush says.

"The Presidents' Gatekeepers" premieres on Discovery Channel Wednesday Sept. 11 and Thursday Sept. 12 at 9 p.m.