WASHINGTON -- Independent presidential candidate Ross Perot, hoping to capitalize on some post-debate momentum in the countdown days of the election season, is stepping up his saturation bombing of the airwaves.
Continuing to avoid public appearances, even as his supporters
call for him to hit the trail, the Texas billionaire begins a new blizzard of paid TV tonight, with seven new 60-second spots and three new 30-minute "infomercials," all airing through this weekend.
Since announcing on Oct. 1 that he was a candidate for president, Mr. Perot has confined his campaign to the airwaves and avoided public appearances and encounters with the press -- except at brief post-debate rallies.
Despite reports from campaign officials that he would be hitting the hustings after the debates, there were no signs yesterday that he planned to do so anytime soon. Perot spokeswoman April Cotton called recent reports that the candidate would make campaign appearances later this week "wishful thinking" and highly unlikely.
At a brief news conference held after Monday night's debate in East Lansing, Mich., Mr. Perot lashed out at the press, calling them "jerks" who acted like a bunch of "teen-age boys," and making it clear he preferred to stick to paid advertising and avoid the news media as much as possible.
After respectable performances in the debates, Mr. Perot's support and favorable ratings have been increasing. But he is still trailing the two major-party candidates by a sizable margin and his biggest obstacle now is convincing voters who may be leaning his way that they aren't wasting a vote by pulling the lever for the longshot.
With this in mind, several of the new 60-second Perot ads admonish voters: "This is no time to waste a vote on politics as usual. It is time for a candidate who will get down to business."
Tonight's half-hour commercial, airing on ABC at 8:30 p.m., is the second half of a biography-interview that began Saturday night with "Ross Perot: The Early Years." Tonight's segment features Mr. Perot discussing his involvement with the POW-MIA issue during the Vietnam War, the rescue of his business employees from Iran in 1979 (an episode documented in Ken Follett's book and the subsequent TV miniseries, "On Wings of Eagles") and his involvement with Texas school reform in the mid-1980s.
Together the three half-hour segments will cost Mr. Perot $812,000. Mr. Martin said the campaign plans to continue these lengthy commercials all the way to Nov. 3, along with a hefty arsenal of 60-second spots.