In the past two weeks, like a trick candle that flickers back to life just when it looked as if the flame had gone out, Mr. Perot's presidential plans started flaring again with vigor.
This week he choreographed an elaborate production that all but assured his return, telling his state coordinators to listen to presentations by both the Bush and Clinton camps before deciding if he should run. Even before Monday's political show-and-tell began, it was clear these ardent supporters wanted their man back in the race after getting him on the ballot in all 50 states. As a result, yesterday's "October surprise" was not much of a surprise.
Mr. Perot's motivations through this political odyssey have confounded even those closest to him. Many believe that, as a man of enormous ego, he has rejoined the race simply to erase the image of him as a quitter. Others, like former Perot spokesman James Squires, believe he is trying to get the two major party candidates to focus on the budget deficit. Mr. Swindle believes that Mr. Perot truly wants to be president. And, although Mr. Perot vehemently denied it yesterday, some still insist he is ultimately trying to unseat Mr. Bush because of a long-held grudge.
"Absolutely not," Mr. Perot said yesterday. "He [Mr. Bush] has called me every name in the book. All I've ever said, 'Fine man,' 'Fine family.'
"The only thing I've ever criticized is his mistakes in office. . . . I'm everything from a monster to crazy, though, coming from them, right?" Mr. Perot said.
Trying to cut off any "unfriendly" inquiries, Mr. Perot said that he -- would not spend "one minute answering questions that are not directly relevant to the issues."