November 5, 1996
This was election day in America. The presidency and 435 House and 34 Senate seats were on the line, among many other political matters. Kwame Holman reports.
KWAME HOLMAN: Ross Perot was the first of the prominent presidential candidates to appear this election day. He and wife Margo voted at about 9 AM at a recreation center in Dallas. A few hours later, Bob and Elizabeth Dole were at the First Christian Church in Dole's home town of Russell, Kansas. Dole noted this vote was unique for him.
SEN. BOB DOLE: Well, I've voted before. It's kind of--but never voted for myself for President.
KWAME HOLMAN: Then this afternoon, Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton made their way to an old train station in Little Rock, Arkansas. Joined by daughter, Chelsea, President Clinton declined to speak about politics but waved to supporters after voting. Like Perot and Dole, the President capped this long campaign season by speaking at length one final time last night. He spoke at a rally just before midnight in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: This is the last speech of my last campaign. If you came up to me and said, what have you learned in 23 years that never changes, I would say, when people look into their hearts and they ask, what is the right thing for my children and for my family and for America's future, when they set aside their prejudices and embrace people of different racial and religious and ethnic groups who share their values of work and family and belief in the Constitution. When they roll up their sleeves and work together, America always wins. This is the greatest country in human history because we have created a system in which you are the boss. Tomorrow, you will be the boss, and you will go in there, and you'll be asked, will we renew President Clinton's contract?
KWAME HOLMAN: Mr. Clinton and his family plan to spend election night in Little Rock. It was a hoarse Bob Dole who wrapped up his 96-hour non-stop campaign marathon at 3 AM today in Independence, Missouri. Dole predicted a come-from-behind victory.
SEN. BOB DOLE: Well, let me say tonight, we're approaching the end of a very historic campaign, that for many months I've traveled all over this country to spread my message about the future of America, and like all worthy causes, this one was done without its challenges. At times, many wondered whether my voice would be heard. In fact, I've wondered that myself the last couple of days, but--so it is fitting in the final hours of this campaign that I have come here to Independence, Missouri, the hometown of Harry Truman, a plain-spoken man, who defied the odds and challenged the prevailing wisdom and dared to trust the people--dared to trust the people. (applause)
KWAME HOLMAN: Tonight, Bob and Elizabeth Dole return to Washington, D.C., to await the election results. Ross Perot's election eve message came via his trademark venue, a series of prerecorded infomercials aired in prime time on major networks at a cost of about $2 million.
ROSS PEROT: Before you cast your ballot, ask yourself, would you hire a person facing criminal charges to baby sit your children? Of course not. To paint the interior of your house? No, they might still something. Or to be the cashier at the cash register at a fast food restaurant? No, you wouldn't do it. Or would you even give a person facing criminal charges money to buy groceries for you and your family? No. You'd be afraid he wouldn't come back with the groceries. If the answer to these questions is no, how could you ever consider voting for a person with pending criminal charges to be President of the United States?
KWAME HOLMAN: Before the night is over, it probably will be known how Perot's and Dole's late campaign attacks on Bill Clinton affect the presidential outcome.