Perot's reported slide has the party worried

ON THE SCENE

July 15, 1992|By JACK W. GERMOND AND JULES WITCOVER

NEW YORK -- You would expect Democrats convening here to be delighted by reports of trouble in the Ross Perot campaign. Not necessarily.

The concern among party professionals is that Mr. Perot will go into a slide before Bill Clinton has given voters who can't swallow President Bush enough reason to switch to him as a way of expressing their dismay. The real horror story in Democratic eyes is speculation here that Mr. Perot may abandon his campaign altogether. This has been fueled by reports of the Texas billionaire's reaction to the criticism he received after referring to blacks as "you people" in a speech to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Mr. Perot telephoned Cable News Network anchorman Bernard Shaw to express his dismay at the way he had been understood. And in lengthy conversations with several CNN officials, he described the flap over the NAACP speech as "the last straw."

The notion that this may mean a withdrawal by Mr. Perot has been nourished by the stories about him walking away from other projects -- although none as grand as a campaign for president of the United States.

*

The morning-after critics generally gave the most favorable reviews on the three Democratic keynoters to Gov. Zell Miller of Georgia, who delivered a hot populist attack on President Bush and declared: "George Bush does not get it."

Governor Miller's red-faced speech came as no surprise to Georgians familiar with his political rhetoric for years. And what they know that the television audience may not have known is that Mr. Miller has had his own designs on running for president and came close to declaring his candidacy last year.

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