LOS ANGELES — ROSS PEROT, seeking to steer the election debate and force President Bush and Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton to address federal budget deficits, hinted he might reenter the presidential race, a report said.
In an interview published in yesterday's Los Angeles Times, Perot held out the possibility his political organization - United We Stand, America - might endorse Clinton if the Democratic presidential nominee confronts the deficit issue.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton have avoided detailed discussions of the deficit.
Mr. Perot says considering the huge swing vote his followers represent, Bush and Clinton would be "unrealistic" to continue to ignore the deficit issue.
To decide on running, Perot said, he would require a meeting involving all 50 state coordinators of his organization.
"If they said `yes, go to it,' then we'd do it," Perot said in the Times account.
Asked about former Texas Gov. John Connally's comment during the Republican National Convention that Perot might eventually endorse Clinton, the Texas billionaire said: "It's not me endorsing anybody; it would be our organization, United We Stand, America."
Mr. Connally, a Democrat-turned-Republican, served as a Perot adviser during the Texas businessman's short, undeclared candidacy.
Perot announced nine weeks ago that he would not be a candidate, saying that since the Democratic Party had "revitalized" itself, he concluded he could not win.
He also said it would be disruptive for him to remain in the race because he might win enough electoral votes to throw the election into the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, Bill Clinton leads President Bush 52 percent to 40 percent in the latest CBS News-New York Times poll but about 3 in 10 voters say they might change their minds before the election. Clinton's 12-point lead in the poll released Tuesday was down 4 points from a similar poll conducted for the same organizations in late August.
The sampling of 1,006 registered voters has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Clinton led 65 percent to 27 percent among Democrats who said they voted for Ronald Reagan, CBS said. He also led 63 percent to 30 percent among 18-29 year-old-voters.
But Bush led 47 percent to 41 percent among men ages 30 to 44.
If Ross Perot is on the ballot, as he will be in most if not all states, 14 percent said they would vote for him, leaving Clinton with 42 percent and Bush with 34 percent.