Ross Perot returned to the political arena this week, denying ** he is planning to run for president in 1996 and denying he wants to turn his United We Stand, America organization into a third party.
No doubt both are true, but as every schoolchild knows, the road to presidential candidacies is often paved with changed intentions. Bill Clinton promised Arkansas in 1990 that if re-elected governor he would not run for president in 1992.
Mr. Perot sounded like a political party leader and potential presidential candidate in his remarks Monday. The purpose of his news conference was to begin fund raising and membership drives for United We Stand, which he says is not a party, but which resembles one nonetheless. It does so in one interesting way not much discussed. Under the present presidential campaign financing law, United We Stand apparently would qualify for $6 million in federal funds in 1996 to hold a nominating convention and its nominee would qualify for $30 million in the general election campaign.
"We want to re-create a government that comes from the people," Mr. Perot said. "We want to reform the federal government at all levels." All obviously includes the top level. Mr. Perot underscored that when he said of the Clinton cabinet choices that they represented the status quo of the system who would "pressure" the new president not to change things.
Ed Rollins, the political consultant who worked briefly for Mr. Perot last year, said the Texas billionaire was "probably bored being out of the limelight. What is his motivation here except to get his ego stroked?"
Maybe that is all that's involved here, but still the return of Ross Perot has to be of at least some concern to Bill Clinton -- and perhaps to ambitious Republicans as well. According to one report from Washington, he told Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole last month that he would like to help "revitalize" the Republican Party. The man who got 19-plus percent of the presidential vote as an independent candidate may or may not be right for that job, but he is not someone to be written off lightly.