ELECTIONS ’92 : Perot Aides Say Media Talk Unfairly of Two-Man Race : Politics: Rivals, news outlets also blamed for miring independent bid in uproar over alleged GOP dirty tricks.


Independent candidate Ross Perot’s campaign aides charged Thursday that the news media are unfairly defining the 1992 presidential election as a race strictly between President Bush and Democratic challenger Bill Clinton.

In a prepared statement that suggested that the media and his opponents have conspired against him, Perot’s press secretary, Sharon Holman, also blamed Bush, Clinton and news reporters for causing his independent campaign to become mired in a controversy over Perot’s allegations that the GOP was plotting a dirty tricks campaign against him.

“In the past week,” Holman said, “we have been forced to respond to planted stories that have been apparently planted by the opposition and have deflected us away from what we think are the major issues of this campaign and the issues that are important to the American people.”


In an effort to redirect the media focus, Perot will embark Saturday on a two-day, three-state campaign swing through Florida, Kansas and California. On Sunday, he will appear at rallies at the Long Beach Arena, beginning at 2 p.m., and the Santa Clara Convention Center near San Jose.

Perot, who is trailing in the polls, has indicated that he is counting on a higher than normal turnout of new voters to give him an unexpected boost on Election Day. Although some polls show the race tightening between Clinton and Bush, Clay Mulford, Perot’s son-in-law and campaign counsel, said it is Perot’s judgment that “it’s impossible for Bush to win.”

Implicitly, Holman’s statement was an acknowledgment that Perot realized that he had blundered last Sunday when he told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that he withdrew from the race last July because he suspected that the Republicans were plotting a smear campaign against his daughter Carolyn.

Bush dismissed the charge as “crazy” and White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater said it proved that Perot is “paranoid.”

Holman did not say who she thought had planted this story with the news media. But she noted that “other campaigns have called on the media to attack Ross Perot, his credibility and character.”

Holman cited a number of instances in recent days in which the news media had failed to mention Perot in discussing the election.


In particular, she objected to a graphic used by Dan Rather on the “CBS Evening News” that referred only to Bush and Clinton. She also mentioned a straw poll ballot apparently sent to schoolchildren by Time Inc. that did not list Perot’s name. The ballot listed Bush, Clinton and “other.”

“This is an attempt to define the election as a Clinton-Bush race,” Holman said. “We feel it is unfair and we’re no longer going to respond to any more trivial questions . . . . The American people know who ‘other’ is and they will voice their opinion on Tuesday.”

Mulford echoed Holman’s sentiments. He said news media questions about the GOP dirty tricks plot were simply “a calculated effort to get us to focus on nonsense.”

Holman and Mulford refused to answer any more questions about the alleged GOP dirty tricks plot. Nor would they respond to charges made Wednesday by James Oberwetter, chairman of the Texas Bush campaign, that Perot had enlisted the FBI and a private citizen in separate efforts to entrap him in campaign dirty tricks.

In a taped interview with David Frost to be broadcast on PBS tonight, Perot was asked to respond to charges that his suspicions of a GOP dirty tricks plot show he is paranoid.

“I am not paranoid,” Perot insisted. “. . . Part of the political process in our country, particularly in one party, is when you have a candidate who is attractive to the people, and who can communicate with people, is to try to redefine his character. You’ll never find the word ‘paranoid’ used once in all of the thousands, hundreds of thousands of words written about me before this started.”


Although Perot contends he can win in all 50 states, Mulford said the Texas billionaire appears to be strongest in Texas, California, Montana and Wyoming.