DENVER (AP) _ As Richard Lamm's staff dismantles his sparse campaign headquarters, the former Colorado governor remains committed to a third-party movement, but not yet committed to Ross Perot. He vowed to ``sit out'' the voting if he can't bring himself to back the Reform Party leader.

``Who knows what's going to happen down the road,'' said Lamm, just days after he lost the Reform Party presidential nomination to Perot. ``But by far, the best course for people who are interested in reform is to stick with the Reform Party and reform it from within.''

Lamm lost to Perot, party founder and funder, by a near 2-to-1 margin. Only 50,000 of 1.13 million eligible voters turned in ballots in a process criticized by Lamm supporters as unfair; Lamm never got a list of voters and battled to ensure the integrity of the process.

``I don't have much desire to talk about the problems in the system right now,'' said Lamm, a lifelong Democrat. ``I have a lot of sympathy for the task they undertook down there in Dallas to mail these ballots to get a party up and running.''

As far as the presidential race, Lamm said he must ``in good conscience endorse someone who might end up running the country.'' And qualities that make Perot a good businessman might not make him a good president.

Struggling, Lamm said he'll ``either back Perot or sit out.''

``There is a lot of stuff going on ... I sort of have to have a post-mortem,'' he explained.

Lamm said he and his running mate, former California Congressman Ed Zschau, remain dedicated to a third party and will appear on behalf of independent candidates nationwide. ``The more I see American politics, the more I see a need for a third force _ a reform movement,'' he said.

Meantime, Lamm will return to his Center for Public Policy at the University of Denver to ``do what I love,'' teach.

He also has several speaking engagements scheduled, most centering on health care. In addition, Lamm plans to write an article about his experience as a third party presidential candidate.

While he said he wouldn't rule out launching a new third party movement, Lamm said the Reform Party remains the best bet for people for now.

``The 50,000 turnout might have been disappointing, but it's a skeleton on which we can build out,'' Lamm said.