Historic 1992 campaign Washington DC
Perot opens DC campaign office May 29, 1992
Ross Perot, Gloria Borland and Mrs. Margot Perot in Dallas, Texas
Ross Perot 19.7 million votes 18.9% popular vote 1992
Ralph Nader 2.8 million votes 2.7% popular vote 2000
Jill Stein 1.4 million votes 1 % popular vote 2016
Very few people get the opportunity to influence a national presidential campaign. The Perot campaign invited me to have a seat at their table.
Background. The U.S. was in a deep recession. The incumbent President was out of touch. In February 1992, businessman Ross Perot was on CNN's Larry King Live, when a viewer called in and asked Perot to run for president. Perot said if the people would get his name on the ballot in all 50 states, he would consider running for President as an independent. Perot didn't like the established political parties. He wanted to be independent. Thus the "People for Perot" campaign began. It was grassroots in all 50 states.
A friend asked me to come with her to a Perot meeting in DC. At the meeting, organizers were struggling with how to open an office and begin their operations. I offered some suggestions. I knew how to start a business, it seemed starting a campaign should be similar. My ideas worked. The advice I gave in DC had gotten back to Perot in Dallas.
There are 10 PBS stations in Texas and my TV series had aired on all of them.
In early April 1992, Perot's top aide in Dallas flew to DC and invited me to dinner at the Jefferson Hotel. In the two months since he appeared on Larry King, Perot had sky rocked to the top of the polls. Perot wanted to hire me to run their Washington DC office. DC was important because of the Washington press corps. DC would be highly visible and Perot wanted a highly competent person running DC. I was surprised at Perot's offer. I wasn't planning on spending my time on a campaign, but he got me at "help change our country."
I agreed to give the Perot campaign my summer until my TV shows started production again in the fall. A week can be a lifetime in a campaign, so four months was plenty of time to make a difference. At headquarters in Dallas, Perot hired as his co-Campaign Managers, Hamilton Jordan who ran Jimmy Carter's 1976 & 1980 campaigns and Ed Rollings who ran Ronald Reagan's 1980 & 1984 campaigns. His campaign picked the best brains from both political parties.
I was Perot's Campaign Director. I had to lead 1,400 volunteers from the DC office. We attracted both Democrats and Republicans, white and black.
At a meeting in Dallas, I entered a room with over 100 people, all white and predominantly male. I was the youngest at 35. Perot was on stage and he proposed changing the direction of his campaign. He asked the room if we approved of his new plan? No one spoke up. I did. Instead of being punished for speaking truth to power, I was rewarded. That afternoon, Perot invited me to become a part of his inner circle.
On another Dallas trip, Perot's General Counsel came out of a meeting, saw me and said, "Gloria Borland, if you were 20 years older, we would be vetting you for Vice President."
My Talent Exposed
I was the perfect person to manage the Washington press corps for the Perot campaign. The political press in DC are the smartest and most aggressive journalists in America. I had many days of walking out to face the onslaught of press by myself. I handled every situation truthfully and with grace under fire. In 1992, presidential campaigns were a white boys' club and I was proud to be a trailblazer. Running a national campaign is not easy, you get very little sleep and you exist on that adrenaline rush every day. Despite the hectic pace, you get to work with accomplished people and it was an exciting and fun time. The days are unpredictable, you are riding a roller coaster and I happen to be really good at it.
I didn't want to be a political operative but I discovered I had a natural talent for political strategy and nationwide communications.
Electoral College - Gloria Borland was listed on the official election ballot for the Presidential Electoral College for the District of Columbia in 1992.
At Radford high school, studying government and politics interested me. The Girl Scouts of America were holding a national conference in Washington DC and when I was 15, I was selected to represent the State of Hawaii in 1972. I was picked because I had earned 60 merit badges, the highest in the state at that time. I met scouts from around the country, loved exploring Washington and wanted to return to DC for college. Two years later, in fall 1974, I'm a freshman at George Washington University living in Thurston Hall located three blocks from the White House.
A few months into college, I needed a part-time job. I gave my resume to all elected members of Hawaii's Congressional delegation, and I immediately heard back from Senator Inouye's office. They needed a clerk. I'm hired and worked for Senator Inouye from January 1975 - June 1978. People were surprised I got a job working on Capitol Hill. Most young people land jobs because of family connections. Their father's a wealthy donor or a union boss. Not in my case. I was hired because I was Hawaii's top Girl Scout.
Eiler Ravenholt, was Inouye's AA (Chief of Staff) and he hired me in 1975. Eiler used to work for Vice President Hubert Humphrey and he was brilliant in crafting legislation. My final interview was with Senator Inouye himself, and I passed. I had just turned 18. I learned a lot from listening and observing all the older adults in Senator Inouye's office.
I met the Senator's only child, his son, Kenny Inouye, who was about 10 years old. I also met the Senator's wife, Mrs. Maggie Inouye, who was brilliant and very kind. I learned if it wasn't for the advice of Maggie, Dan Inouye would probably not have made it to the US Senate. I was a staffer after Watergate, during Inouye's rise in public influence in the Senate.
In 2021, in collaboration with the Senator's son Ken Inouye, we launched a new podcast series. www.SenInouyeToldByHisSon.com
I was active with College Democrats, volunteered for Jimmy Carter and attended the Democratic National Convention. I was quoted in the New York Times when I was 19.
College Democrats of America was founded in 1932, but by 1976, it was in decline. College Democrats was not taken seriously by the national Democratic Party. Could I revive a failing organization? I volunteered to turn things around and chair the next convention. I put together a great team and in February 1977, the convention I chaired had a 1,000% increase in student delegates from all over the country. We held our event at the historic Mayflower Hotel and it was the first national convention to break-even financially.
My strategy of improving College Democrats of America's reputation worked. We received support from the DNC, the Carter White House, Members of Congress and unions. Because of the success of the national convention, I became the most highly respected college democrat in the country in 1977, when I was 20. I realized I could take a big idea and with the right team, we could make it work!
Equal Rights for Women took hold in the 1970s. I helped Congresswoman Patsy Mink with the Capitol Hill Women's Political Caucus. Senator Inouye gave me his congressional pass to attend the historic National Women's Conference in Houston in November 1977.
First Ladies Roslyn Carter, Betty Ford and Lady Bird Johnson were participants along with Congresswomen Bella Abzug, Patsy Mink, Barbara Jordan and feminists Gloria Steinem and Ellie Smeal.
Walking the streets of Houston at the first National Women's Conference made me feel proud to be female for the first time. Women are not less than men. We can aspire to achieve what in the past could only be done by men. We have a right to be equal. Can I be a magazine publisher? This conference gave me the inspiration and the courage to try. I was about to turn 21.