By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The 60 Minutes episode stopped Perot's momentum dead in its tracks. Within five days, his rating in one poll had flip-flopped from a positive 56-34 to a negative 44-46. Not even a series of public rallies turned the tide.
Still, on Election Day--Tuesday, November 3--Perot's $65 million campaign paid off in 19 percent of the vote. It was the best finish by an independent candidate in a presidential election since Teddy Roosevelt's in 1912.
Perot's vote totals were remarkably consistent in all 50 states, especially considering that he had campaigned personally in only a few. He pulled more than 20 percent of the vote in 31 states, and over a quarter of the electorate in nine. Moreover, exit polls showed that 40 percent of the electorate would have voted for Perot if they had thought he had a chance to win.
"That means he could have won," says third-party expert and pollster Gordon Black. "And that is the only question of the exit poll that the four networks did not report on election night."
Largely because of that, Perot is convinced he could have won. "The Republicans elected Clinton in '92 by a nonstop propaganda campaign, saying, 'Don't waste your vote on Perot'...People were talked out of their vote."
As the election results came in, Perot held a party as unconventional as his campaign. The lasting image was of a smiling Perot, dancing with Margot to the tune of Patsy Cline's "Crazy."
"That was their [the Republicans and Democrats] central theme," says Perot with a twinkle in his eye, "that I was crazy. But the thing that drove them crazy was when I took that as my theme song. The devil made me do it.