Perot Supporters Angry, Want Him to Reconsider With AM-Perot Bjt
DALLAS (AP) _ Shocked and angered Ross Perot volunteers jammed his campaign phone bank Thursday, protesting his decision not to run for president.
Many hoped he would reconsider.
″We’re still moving and you can’t put the brakes on all of a sudden,″ said Joe Barton, a volunteer at the Dallas phone bank.
″I’d like for him to come back tomorrow and tell us he changed his mind,″ said Mary Grimes Gitelman, another volunteer.
Perot’s potential bid gained steam in March when he opened the phone bank as a clearinghouse for supporters who wanted information on ballot petitions around the country.
A grass-roots movement rarely seen in American politics followed, with volunteers organizing their state and local offices. As Perot’s professional operatives tried to rein in this organization, they bruised some egos among the volunteers.
But nothing stung like Perot’s announcement that he would not run despite volunteers’ success in qualifying him for every state - 24 - in which he has so far been eligible.
″Everybody is acutely disappointed and stunned,″ said Joan Vinson, state coordinator in Annapolis, Md. ″We did feel that we had a covenant with Ross Perot. He said if we got him on the ballot, he would run. We have certainly been getting him on the ballot everywhere.″
″I feel like a baby on the street. Who’s going to pick me up?″ said volunteer Al Alavara in Dallas.
Volunteers at the Dallas phone bank were telling callers to send Perot telegrams and fax messages exhorting him to get back into the race.
Campaign chairman Tom Luce, a longtime Perot associate, gave a tearful goodbye to volunteers just after Perot’s news conference.
″My prayer today really is that you will not give up on what you’re trying to do,″ Luce said amid applause and ringing phones.
″This is like what it was at the very first,″ said Norma Wagner, who had answered phones since early March. ″Perot needs to come in here. He needs to hear what we’re hearing.″
Phones jammed the switchboards at other Perot campaign offices as well.
″The first thing we’ve gotten is absolute shock and sorrow, and then anger, how could he do this to us?″ asked Marilyn Ersland, a volunteer in San Diego. ″It’s changing to, ‘We put one hell of a lot of work in for this guy.’ People are getting very irate now.″
″Many, many of us were very, very optimistic about seeing a Perot presidency a reality,″ said Rod Madsen in Bozeman, Mont.
Perot told reporters that his grass-roots supporters ″changed politics in this country and it is a change for the better.″
″To all the volunteers, I’ll always look back on this with the fondest of memories and my memories will be focused on you and your greatness because you are America,″ Perot said during his morning news conference.
He urged supporters to continue their ballot drive so ″that both parties can know exactly who are the people are who are concerned about our country’s future.″
Some volunteers around the country took that message to heart.
″There are a lot of volunteers out there who are unhappy with what has happened in this country,″ said Tom O’Neil, coordinator in Perot’s New Jersey office. ″There’s no reason for these people to go home and go to bed.″
But others said Perot’s absence from the race would mean they wouldn’t vote.
″My wife and I both have worked on this three days a week since the office opened,″ said Joe Martin, a volunteer in Orange County, Calif. ″We can’t vote now because the other two blokes are no good. They’re crooks.″
″I guess we’ll just go home.″