United Perot backers stand for message Group wants Texas billionaire's ideas adopted nationally.

July 31, 1992|By Dallas Morning News

DALLAS -- Supporters of Ross Perot officially have formed a national political organization, pledging to pressure presidential and congressional candidates to adopt Mr. Perot's economic and political programs.

The volunteers dubbed their organization "United We Stand," borrowing the name Mr. Perot gave to an organization he created in 1969 to support President Richard Nixon's Vietnam policies.

After two days of meetings in a North Dallas hotel, volunteers said yesterday they reluctantly accepted Mr. Perot's July 16 decision not to run for president. But the group said it would try to put Mr. Perot's name on all 50 state ballots, and urge people to vote for him if the other candidates do not measure up.

"The coalescing agent for this has been Ross Perot and his message," said Orson Swindle, the Perot campaign's Hawaii state coordinator who heads the new organization. "We intend to make a difference."

Mr. Swindle added: "Ross Perot is the absolute spiritual leader of this movement."

The volunteer organization has endorsed Mr. Perot's economic plan, which calls for a series of tax increases and budget cuts designed to close the budget deficit within five years. The proposals include a phased-in 50-cent increase in the gasoline tax, expansion of Social Security taxes and cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.

Participants at the meeting also vowed to push for political reforms that include congressional term limits, caps on campaign spending and elimination of political action committees.

Mr. Perot met with many of the volunteers July 18-19, the weekend following his withdrawal announcement, and urged them to remain together. The Dallas businessman financed this pTC week's conference, held at an Embassy Suites hotel in North Dallas.

Clay Mulford, the general counsel for the Perot campaign, said his office will send letters to the nearly three dozen states in which Mr. Perot has qualified for the ballot, affirming his desire to remain listed as a candidate.

"The concept is that if he remains on the ballot, the group has great leverage," Mr. Mulford said.

Mr. Mulford said a half-dozen states have inquired about Mr. Perot's status, and some volunteers fear that major and minor political parties may try to disqualify him.

The campaign letters will include the designation of retired Navy Vice Adm. James Stockdale as Mr. Perot's permanent running )) mate. Mr. Perot had designated Mr. Stockdale an interim running mate to fulfill certain state requirements.

Mr. Stockdale, who attended the volunteer meetings as an observer, said the designation does not mean that Mr. Perot plans to re-enter the race, but is only a technical matter.

"It was just a natural fallout of the change of position," said Mr. Stockdale, a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Leaders with United We Stand said they are still debating their group's organizational structure and how to pay for their efforts. Members said Mr. Perot has not made a specific financial commitment, but they expect to receive some backing.

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