Perot supporters in Maryland anxiously stand by for their man's decision

September 30, 1992|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,Staff Writer

The phones were ringing incessantly again yesterday in the Annapolis offices of the presidential campaign without a candidate.

"All day long, off the wall," said Jack Jachimowicz, a volunteer who has continued to work for the cause if not the candidacy of Ross Perot even after the candidate pulled out.

Now, with Mr. Perot on the verge of returning, Mr. Jachimowicz is excited all over again. "I'm in full support of whatever he wants to do," said the 62-year-old retired CSX employee.

So were 85 percent of the 300 callers who dialed the Perot headquarters yesterday. While some thought Mr. Perot might be disruptive and should stay on the sidelines, they were very much in the minority.

But Mr. Perot's return is not a foregone conclusion, according to Bert Keith, operations director for the Perot campaign in Maryland.

"There are a number of possibilities," he said. "We could endorse [Bill] Clinton. We could endorse [President George] Bush. We could endorse no one and work on races for congress and senate. Or, we could make the decision that we can't believe either Bush or Clinton and that Perot is the only choice."

The grass roots-to-Dallas decision-making process, he said, begins with a private meeting today.

Joan Vincent, Perot chairwoman in Maryland, will report on the meetings in Dallas this week between Mr. Perot and representatives of the two major party candidates. Mrs. Vincent was en route from Texas yesterday and unavailable for comment.

Mr. Keith said Maryland county coordinators for Perot would take Mrs. Vincent's comments to key local leaders and other supporters for their thoughts. After another meeting in Annapolis, Maryland's views will be communicated to the Perot headquarters.

"We will have some constraints because of the limited time," Mr. Keith said, observing that the candidate wants to make his decision by tomorrow. The Maryland recommendation will be known by Thursday, he said.

Mr. Keith said he believes this week's meeting in Dallas made a positive contribution to the political process in the United States.

"People were able to sit and talk without chewing each other up. We all want a better government. That's what we're in this for. If Ross is the vehicle, that's fine. If it's Bush or Clinton, that's fine, too."

A 39-year-old salesman who lives in North Potomac, Mr. Keith said he had no difficulty backing a candidate who left the contest once already.

"The statements that he's an egomaniac are trash. And it's a complete and total disservice to the Perot volunteers. He's mobilized people to think about politics in a very positive way. He's no quitter. You don't make $4 billion by being a quitter."

T. R. Sundaram, organizer of the Maryland chapter of the new Patriot Party, an off-shoot of the original Perot effort, says he will vote for the businessman whether or not he actively re-enters the race.

He said he sees nothing in the ideas of Mr. Bush or Mr. Clinton which adequately address what he believes is the nation's most severe problem: the deficit. He said he is not concerned about economists who say the Perot economic plan could deepen or prolong the recession.

"Economics is not at a stage where even a Nobel laureate can tell you what will happen or not happen if you do certain things," he said.

Nor is he troubled by Mr. Perot's apparent indecision.

"It's not necessarily indecision. He really thought the two parties could be given a jolt and made to realize they had to address these issues."

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