Former Democratic presidential candidate Paul E. Tsongas said Friday that he met with independent White House contender Ross Perot for two hours this week and that they discussed “what I thought the prototype of a vice presidential candidate should be.”
But Tsongas reiterated his stand that he would not run for vice president with Perot or with Bill Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
Tsongas’ meeting with Perot, which occurred Thursday in Hartford, Conn., helped fuel reports of a continuing rift between him and Clinton over some of the economic positions in the platform to be adopted at next month’s Democratic National Convention.
And Tsongas--despite having officially endorsed Clinton--did little to dispel speculation about the rift by declining to take any steps to stop some of his supporters from shifting their allegiance to Perot.
“I’m a Democrat, but I’m not a Democrat who is going to be trashing Ross Perot,” Tsongas said after learning of a movement among some of his volunteers to back Perot.
Janet Ritchie, co-founder of Tcitizens for Tsongas, said the group would be mailing letters to its members encouraging them to work for Perot. She said she did not consult Tsongas on the move.
Tcitizens for Tsongas was formed after the former Massachusetts senator suspended his campaign in mid-March for lack of money. It tried to keep support for Tsongas alive until the convention.
Tsongas insisted his own relations with Clinton remain cordial. He described a meeting between himself and Clinton in Boston, which also took place Thursday, as “sort of like old warriors coming together.”
But Tsongas also said he told Clinton he was upset because he had drawn up an economics plank for the party platform but Clinton’s supporters had backed off commitments to include it in the document being drafted for the convention.
Tsongas said he will continue to push for the adoption of the plank, which includes calls for a capital gains tax cut and an aggressive national investment strategy.
Tsongas said that during his discussion with Perot, he offered the Texas billionaire advice and found him “a lot more likable . . . and more of a listener than I would have expected.”
Perot’s “recent public portrayal led me to expect a different person than I met,” Tsongas told the Sun newspaper in his hometown of Lowell.