Bush Campaign Officials Direct Attacks at Perot : Politics: Harsh criticism of the probable third contender comes from the GOP. Foley’s position is more moderate.
Senior campaign aides to President Bush on Sunday escalated Republican attacks on Ross Perot, charging that the undeclared independent candidate has avoided or changed positions on major issues and that he lacks the temperament to be the nation’s chief executive.
Richard N. Bond, chairman of the Republican National Committee, referred to the billionaire businessman as “vague” and “authoritarian” on public policy matters and declared: “There’s a risk factor in Ross Perot that people ultimately will reject.”
Charles Black, a top adviser to the Bush campaign, said: “The more people see of Ross Perot the less they’ll like.”
Bond’s and Black’s sharp criticisms of Perot on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation” stood in contrast to comments made by House Speaker Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Asked if he agreed with House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.), who called Perot “a frightening demagogue,” Foley replied:
“No, I wouldn’t say that about him. I’ve known him slightly for a number of years. He’s a man of very strong opinions, very articulate in expressing them.”
Foley said he is “a little concerned” about some of Perot’s pronouncements on civil liberties questions and said that Perot’s proposal of “some system of electronic town meetings” to decide issues seemed to conflict with the duties of Congress.
Foley, although an ally of Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, expected to be the Democratic nominee, rejected the notion that Democrats in Congress should automatically back Clinton if the presidential election is decided in the House. That would happen if no candidate got a majority of Electoral College votes. Foley said he doubted that would happen, but he would hope House members would vote for the candidate with “the legitimacy of support from the American people.”
Democratic National Chairman Ronald H. Brown has said that House Democrats would be obligated to back their party’s nominee in such an electoral deadlock, regardless of the popular vote.
GOP officials Bond and Black predicted that the race eventually will narrow to two candidates--Bush and either Clinton or Perot.
“You have to give Mr. Perot the credit for coming onto the scene in a big way and attracting the interest and attention of a lot of voters, and it’ll probably stay a three-man race until sometime in the fall,” Black said.
Bond, however, went further. He predicted that Perot’s standing in public opinion polls would fall below Clinton’s.
“I just don’t think that the risk that Ross Perot presents to the American people out there is a risk that they’re going to take,” he said.
“He doesn’t have the temperament to be President,” Bond said. “His greatest proclivity, when he runs into opposition, is to take his ball and bat and go home, and I don’t think you want that in the President of the United States.”
Black said: “I do think in the end his character, his temperament, the method of operation he has followed in his other endeavors will be the biggest thing that the public focuses on. But he’s trying to duck the issues.”
Bond said that Perot not only has avoided some issues but also has changed his position on others.
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