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Campaign Trail

Wed., Oct. 9, 1996

Perot’s zen campaign

DALLAS

Ross Perot, who advocates a shorter campaign period, is cutting his own to the bone. With only one month left until Election Day, the Texan’s calendar of public events is almost bare.

He is still getting on television, though not as often as he would like. And as the race enters the home stretch, he has only one announced public appearance, before the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles on Oct. 22.

“It’s unconventional,” spokeswoman Sharon Holman responded when asked whether it was likely that Perot could mount - or was even interested in mounting - the new campaign that had been promised.

“We hope within the next couple of days to put out a full calendar. We’ve got 28 days. That’s plenty,” she added.

Holman described the promised program as vaguely similar to the campaign trail traveled by traditional candidates, although without scheduled news conferences.

Since Perot accepted the Reform Party nomination on Aug. 18, he has had only one rally and has had no question-and-answer news conferences with reporters. He has made fewer than one appearance each week, traveling in his own corporate jet and using his own security rather than Secret Service.

The gods and Dole, Part I:

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, N.J.

Worries about Hurricane Fran canceled Bob Dole’s campaign stop at a life raft factory here last month. Lots of Democratic jokes about that one.

Then, on Tuesday, the remnants of Tropical Storm Josephine washed out the final stops of Dole’s bus tour, including a big event in Hamilton Township.

Republicans in this town are beginning to wonder.

“The gods are against Hamilton Township,” said a laughing Jack Mozloom, Dole’s New Jersey spokesman. “Hopefully third time’s the charm.”

That could come as soon as Sunday, when Dole said he plans to be back in New Jersey.

The gods and Dole, Part II:

WASHINGTON

Last month Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson told his group’s annual conference it would take “a miracle from Almighty God” for Dole to win the White House. Now he seems to be downgrading Dole’s chances even further.

“I believe that, without question, we’re going to have a blowout this November, maybe like unto the Goldwater matter that took place when he ran against Lyndon Johnson,” Robertson told viewers of his television program, the 700 Club.

The Christian Coalition, which generally aligns itself with conservative Republican candidates, has been urging Dole to put more emphasis in his campaign on the social issues such as abortion that are important to its members.

No debating these numbers

NEW YORK

Sunday’s debate drew a third fewer viewers than a 1992 presidential talkfest including Perot, according to Nielsen Media Research figures released Tuesday.

The numbers show the 90-minute faceoff between President Clinton and Dole captured a total rating of 29.3 on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN. That translates into 28.4 million households.

That figure can be most easily compared to 1992’s second Bush-Clinton-Perot debate, since CBS did not air the first debate that year. The three-way debate drew total ratings of 46.3 for ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN, translating to a total of 43.1 million households.

The falloff may reflect the failure of the current race to catch fire with many voters and the exclusion from the debate of Perot, who again is making a third-party bid.

“No one here is surprised,” said Jeff Zucker, NBC’s executive producer of political coverage. “The audience was pretty much consistent with the amount of voter interest all year. It’s what we expected it to be.”

It’s campaigning cats and dogs

It may be difficult to discern any real differences between the presidential candidates on welfare, crime or drugs. But there is one stark choice. Does the American public want a cat or a dog in the White House?

On the campaign trail, Dole promises: “We’re going to put a Leader in the White House. I have a schnauzer named Leader. Leader is going to replace Socks.” Socks, the incumbent, is unlikely to take this lying down.

But what about the voters? Face it, there are two kinds of people in the world: dog people and cat people. To address this demographic gulf, the television host John McLaughlin will moderate the Great Presidential Debate on the Best First Pet: Cat or Dog, in Washington, on Oct. 17, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Humane Society of the United States.

Between now and Election Day, the American people can vote by calling either (900) 680-DOGS or (900) 680-CATS. Each call costs 75 cents, with profits (25 cents per call) earmarked for the Humane Society.



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