Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Perot Paces on the Sidelines in Iowa

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Perot Paces on the Sidelines in Iowa

Article excerpt

AS Bob Dole campaigns for president in Iowa today, he will be rubbing elbows with a potential competitor -- Ross Perot.

The Texas billionaire will speak on leadership and the American dream to 2,500 attendees at the Iowa Future Farmers of America conference in Des Moines. Though it is billed as an inspirational talk, political overtones resonate more and more in each of Mr. Perot's public appearances.

"I don't think anybody ever knows what {Perot} is up to," says Brian Kennedy, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa. "He adds a little intrigue to the story up here."

Because of its early caucuses, Iowa is to presidential campaigns what oil is to popcorn. Candidates visit frequently: Republican Senators Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana and Phil Gramm (R) of Texas earlier this week, Sen. Dole today, President Clinton next week. And Perot's visit raises suspicions that he may make another White House run.

Perot founded United We Stand America (UWSA) as a political watchdog group after his 1992 bid for the presidency, in which he captured a 19 percent share of the vote. In January, UWSA began to consider founding a new political party, holding more than 400 public discussions around the country. The process will culminate at a "national conference" in Dallas in July or August.

The major parties are paying attention. A representative of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky taped all eight UWSA meetings held in that state so far, says John Longmire, UWSA's Kentucky director. Senator McConnell is up for reelection in 1996.

Mr. Longmire adds that 59 percent of Kentucky's 350 participants favored forming a new party. Jim Hennager, UWSA director in Iowa, estimates that, nationwide, support is closer to 75 percent.

Expectations within UWSA vary widely. Mr. Hennager says a motion will be made at the June 11 meeting of UWSA Iowa to dissolve and reform as the state arm of the United Citizens Party. "I can name half a dozen other names that other state organizations are working with," he says.

He expects the national conference in Dallas to attract 10,000 to 20,000 attendees. "We've been told that we would know definitely by Sept. 1 what {Perot's} interests are," Hennager adds. …

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