Perot shifts television campaign from economic charts to his autobiography


DALLAS -- The top-of-the-line make-over at the Neima Marcus beauty salon in Dallas does not come cheap -- $200 for the full treatment, including haircut, facial, manicure and massage.

But that is loose change compared with the nearly $1.1 million that Ross Perot has spent in the last week to make over his political image. While remaining out of sight since Monday night's final debate, Mr. Perot has focused his television advertising campaign not on the economic issues he maintains are so vital but on a careful portrayal of his character and life story.

In the second round of his blitz of half-hour television appearances, Mr. Perot has thrown away his charts and graphs. Viewers have instead seen the aw-shucks billionaire providing memories of his childhood and his heroics.

As in most autobiographies, there are some omissions, including the accounts of investigations and autocratic business dealings that so angered Mr. Perot in the first phase of his campaign.

The first two half-hour programs consisted of the kind of interview candidates dream of: one conducted by his own media consultant. On Friday night, members of Mr. Perot's family provided 30 minutes worth of testimonials.

In last night's installment, on CBS before the World Series, viewers saw "The Ross Perot Nobody Knows," a compilation of Mr. Perot's once anonymous acts of charity for soldiers from the Persian Gulf war, Dallas police officers, neighbors and employees.

Mr. Perot has spent another $940,000 for an hour on ABC on tomorrow night, but aides have not said how it will be used.

Mr. Perot's televised autobiography, which dwells heavily on his attendance at the U.S. Naval Academy and his service in the Navy, omitted any mention of his efforts to cut short his military service.

While he spoke at length about the familial "three musketeers" spirit he engendered at his computer company, Electronic Data Systems Corp., he did not discuss the company's policy against facial hair and its preference for married employees.

He also did not address the heavy use of lobbying and hardball political tactics to win the government contracts that made the company a success. Nor did he mention his history of hiring private detectives to investigate business rivals, political figures and his own campaign volunteers.

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