Perot volunteers have not given up DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION

July 17, 1992|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Disappointed? Yes.

Discouraged? No way.

Ross Perot's withdrawal from the presidential campaign yesterday left some of his Maryland volunteers more determined than ever to have Mr. Perot on the November ballot.

"We may have to start the 'Draft Perot' movement all over again," said Carol Feldmann, press secretary at Perot headquarters in Annapolis. "I think everyone here was disappointed, but I don't think we're ready to give up just yet."

Mrs. Feldmann was one of about 20 volunteers who crowded around a television in the Annapolis office yesterday to hear Mr. Perot announce he was dropping out of the presidential race.

Surrounded by a cornucopia of Perot T-shirts, watches, bumper stickers and hats, some volunteers shook their heads in disbelief as others sat in stunned silence listening to their man who would be president say he didn't think he could win.

Joan Vinson, campaign coordinator for Maryland and one of the state's original Perot backers, said later that volunteers were still assessing their next moves.

"There are people throughout the country who say they will not accept this [withdrawal]," Mrs. Vinson said. "We feel we have a commitment with Ross Perot. We're citizens of this country, and we are demanding a change.

"There's an awful lot of support for him," she continued. "Personally, I do not believe what he said holds water. I believe he could win. Even if [the election] went to the House, I believe he could win."

Mrs. Vinson also observed: "There's a great dissatisfaction right now. The way people feel today [about the Democratic Convention] has nothing to do with how they'll feel come Nov. 3."

In the Annapolis office, right after Mr. Perot's televised statement, volunteer Clare Whitbeck said flatly: "The other two [candidates] are just not acceptable."

Many volunteers there did not agree with Mr. Perot's stated belief that his independent candidacy had helped both Democrats and Republicans focus on the American people. Nor did they agree with Mr. Perot's assessment of his chances for success.

"I'm devastated for our country, for our children and our grandchildren," said volunteer Cara Jean Recio. "I do not believe the Democrats or the Republicans have focused on the people again. I don't believe the Democratic Party is truly revitalized.

"Everything they have been saying is the same thing Perot has been saying. The 'We The People' emphasis, the emphasis on family values -- whatever he said, they said."

The forum for many Perot supporters includes voting for him in November -- if his name is still on the ballot.

"I held my nose four years ago to vote for Bush," Mrs. Recio said. "I will not do it again. Bush is anti-choice. He appointed a complete embarrassment to the legal profession to the Supreme Court. The entire Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas issue was a debacle.

"Perot is going to be on the ballot in November, and that's who I'm voting for."

Maryland supporters have collected more than twice the number of signatures required to place Mr. Perot's name on the state's November ballot. All but three jurisdictions have finished verifying local voters' signatures, said Marvin L. Meyn, the state election board's deputy administrator.

Mr. Perot's name will remain on the ballot unless he asks by Aug. 25 that it be removed.

Carol Grunwald, Mrs. Recio's mother and a Perot volunteer, agreed with Mr. Perot's position that forcing the House of Representatives to elect a president would be disruptive. However, Mrs. Grunwald said a little disruption for the country may be called for.

""It would send a message to the Democrats and Republicans," she said. "It's time to send a message.

"We need to make them accountable, just as we did with the [House] check-cashing scandal."

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