Perot strikes chord with disillusioned Maryland voters

March 29, 1992|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

For as long as she can remember, Becky Lamb has been arguing with her husband, Christopher, about presidential politics. She's a Republican who voted for George Bush. He's a Democrat who voted for Michael Dukakis.

This year, the Baltimore couple, disillusioned with the crop of candidates offered, backed former Massachusetts Sen. Paul E. Tsongas. But with him out of the race, they went searching for someone new.

Now, they've found another candidate they can agree on. He's a Texas billionaire named H. Ross Perot, who has supporters throughout the country mounting a petition drive to get his name on the ballot in all 50 states.

"I'm very disappointed with George Bush," Mrs. Lamb said yesterday after joining a rally in Annapolis for the businessman. "He should have done something for the economy. He's wishy-washy."

Although she first heard of Mr. Perot only last week while eating dinner at a friend's house, she said she trusts Mr. Perot and believes in what he says.

More than 500 people from across Maryland who showed up to volunteer for the petition drive in this state agreed with her.

"If he gets no one else's vote but mine, I don't care," said Daryl Grose, of Rockville. "I finally found someone I can believe in."

It was a sentiment that came to symbolize the afternoon -- repeated by speakers and repeated in interviews after the rally.

But it will take more than sound-bites to get Mr. Perot's name on Maryland's ballot in November. More than 63,000 signatures from registered voters are needed on a petition by Aug. 3.

No problem, says Joan Vinson-Stallings, of Epping Forest, the state coordinator for the draft-Perot effort.

"Next week, we will see this grass-roots effort sprout all over Maryland," she told the crowd, which overflowed a conference room at the Ramada Inn in Parole. We are ordinary people who are going to do an extraordinary thing in this election year."

Mr. Perot, who graduated from the Naval Academy in 1953, may be best known for championing veteran and MIA causes and hiring a group of commandos to rescue two employees taken hostage in Iran in 1979 -- the subject of a best-selling book and TV movie. But the 61-year-old founder of Electronic Data Systems, which he sold to General Motors in 1984 for $1 billion, has said he won't become an official candidate until his name appears on every ballot in the United States.

Mrs. Stallings, who met Mr. Perot in 1968 after her Navy husband's plane was lost in Vietnam, had no trouble finding volunteers to collect signatures, answer phone calls, send out mailings or design campaign signs. Just about every county was represented at yesterday's rally.

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