DALLAS (AP) _ Ross Perot surprised few supporters by calling his decision to leave the presidential race nine weeks ago a ''mistake.''

''This will probably cause you to faint because you've never heard anybody in public life say they made a mistake,'' Perot said Tuesday.

The declaration on ''CBS This Morning'' capped several days of TV appearances during which Perot broadly hinted of an active role in the campaign's final weeks.

''It's been inevitable all along that he was going to return to the fray,'' said John Jay Hooker, a former publisher and politician in Nashville who started urging Perot to run last fall. ''I don't understand why the sophisticated pundits and politicians haven't realized since the day he got out that there would come a day when he was going to re-address the question.''

Perot said he may jump into the race because the major parties have failed to directly address economic issues that worry he and his backers. But he met privately later Tuesday with Democratic Party Chairman Ronald Brown in New York and President Bush's campaign chief, James A. Baker III, in Washington.

Publicly, though, Perot put the decision of an active campaign on state coordinators who emerged from a ballot access drive that began in March and ended with Arizona last week.

''I know what they're going to tell him. Jump in,'' said Dennis Grondahl, a Williston, N.D., salesman who gathered thousands of signatures on Perot's behalf.

Orson Swindle, national volunteer coordinator for Perot's petition drive, asked state coordinators to report their sentiments by Thursday. They will decide later in the week whether to meet with Perot, he said.

''If he responds to what I expect the volunteers will tell him and says 'I will do what I said,' then I think you'll see full-blown campaign that will not be a conventional campaign,'' Swindle said.

Perot became part of the 1992 election scene in February when he promised to campaign if volunteers put him on ballots. But he abandoned the race July 16 before formally getting in, saying he couldn't win and didn't want to be disruptive.