The late Harry Browne, waging the first of two consecutive campaigns as the Libertarian Party’s nominee for the presidency, criticized Texas billionaire Ross Perot as “a political welfare queen” on this day in 1996.
Browne, who qualified for federal matching funds during both of his bids for the White House but refused to accept them either time, skewered his better-known Reform Party rival for taking $29.2 million in federal funding.
“Apparently, Perot is so concerned about the national debt that he’s decided to add to it by raiding the treasury,” needled Browne, whose name appeared on the ballot in all fifty states and District of Columbia that year.
Perot had spent an estimated $63.5 million of his own fortune on his high-octane campaign in 1992 — a year when he sharply criticized his Democratic and Republican rivals for “spending your money, taxpayer money” on their campaigns.
As a result of accepting federal funding based on his impressive 18.9 percent showing that year, Perot was limited to spending only $50,000 of his own money during his second try for the presidency in 1996.
Browne, who was eligible for $470,000 in federal matching funds during the 1996 presidential campaign, explained that it would not only be inconsistent with his libertarian philosophy to accept taxpayer money, but also “highly inappropriate for me to stick my nose in the trough after having denounced the Republicans and Democrats for doing so.”