As the Clinton camp looks ahead to the November election, it’s not clear whether this is a time to celebrate or panic. Its leading opponent isn’t the kind of conventional Republican it has been gearing up to run against: He’s a total outsider with wildly devoted fans and an off-the-cuff — some say crazy — populist style that’s nearly impossible to predict.
The year? 1992.
When it comes to precedents for the wild and woolly 2016 campaign, H. Ross Perot’s 1992 independent run is largely forgotten, but it may be the most crucial one for Hillary to keep in mind. It’s easy to look at the 19 percent Perot drew in the popular vote and dismiss his importance: that’s actually an enormous showing without major-party backing, bested only twice in history — both times by ex-presidents. The true miracle was that Perot made any showing in November at all: At the very peak of his popularity, as the summer general election campaign got rolling, Perot dropped out. He didn’t return to the race until early October — claiming he’d been forced from the race by a blackmail plot involving his daughter, her impending marriage, and compromising photos — without enough time to run a full-scale national campaign.