Dale McCabe says Americans have been asleep politically for the last 100 years, and he wants them to wake up.
To get them to open their eyes, he donned a 19th-century suit and a red, white and blue "Perot '92" sandwich board, put on a stovepipe hat and, with his dog, Butch, in tow, pounded the sidewalks in Bel Air yesterday morning, pressing the flesh and distributing Ross Perot campaign material from his cream-colored carpetbag.
Dressing up is nothing new for Mr. McCabe: He's often seen in Confederate attire outside his Main Street store, "The General's Tailor," which stocks Civil War memorabilia.
"This is how they would have campaigned back then; I figured it would attract attention," he said.
And people did pay attention.
They honked car horns in response to Mr. McCabe's salutes.
Some drivers stopped to ask for bumper stickers or buttons. Others just hollered from their windows, "He's got my vote."
On the sidewalk, people stopped to pet Butch, a Chow, and engage in a little political give-and-take.
"Voting for Perot?" asked Mr. McCabe as he reached in his carpetbag for campaign literature.
"I'm voting for Bush," one woman said. "I love Perot, but he doesn't know eighth-grade civics."
Frank Arndt, a Harford native who lives in Baltimore, told Mr. McCabe that Mr. Perot had his vote, but that he'll write in Bill Clinton for vice president.
"Clinton can get Congress to play ball, but Perot actually means to do something," Mr. Arndt said.
A Confederate at heart, Mr. McCabe said that he resurrected what he calls a grass-roots campaign because he believes in the power of the state and the power of the people.
"The Confederates' constitution was better than the one we have now," he said.
"They're talking now about term limits. The Confederates' constitution had them. I'm supporting Perot because we have a chance with this election to get back to the way the Constitution should be.
"I'm fed up with high taxes and the way government spends money, the people need to take the country back."