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Bush Campaign Denounces Perot as `Paranoid, Delusional'

By Karen Hosler
The Baltimore Sun

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M

The Bush campaign Monday denounced Ross Perot as a "paranoid person who has delusions" at the same time President Bush was making a pitch for wavering Perot backers.

With just a week to go before the election, Bush outlined a "conservative activist" plan for dealing with the economy that he says a second-term executive is best able to achieve.

Struggling to break through the apparent ceiling on his support, Bush was trying to give voters still hesitant about their choice of either Perot or Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, the Democratic nominee, a positive reason for his re-election.

"As the support for Ross Perot has made clear, there is a strong desire for a new coalition in America to get the job done," Bush told a convention of Ace Hardware store owners and vendors in Denver. "The best time to move is when you are re-elected. No more elections ahead. No worry about the future politics. Just get the people's business done fast."

Bush promised to "move quickly to respond to the demands of the people" by meeting with members of the new Congress immediately after their election Tuesday to "shape a legislative package in a way that will guarantee swift passage."

Despite years of gridlock with the Democratic-lead Congress, Bush said he would meet with those leaders to "form a steering group that can ride herd over Congress ... . If we can mobilize for war, if we can mobilize for hurricanes, we can mobilize for our economy."

As a first step, he promised immediately after the election to assemble a special "defense conversion council" to ease the industrial transition from Cold War to peace with a minimum of disruption to the work force.

But while Bush was paying tribute to the movement for change that inspired Perot's independent candidacy, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater was denouncing the Texas billionaire as "a crazy man" and a "paranoid person who has delusions" because of the unsubstantiated dirty-tricks charges Perot has leveled against the Bush campaign.

The Bush campaign fears that if even a small percentage of voters believe the charges, the president will be unfairly hurt.

Fitzwater said that Perot has not "offered one shred of evidence" and yet "this man who might be president of the United States continues to make these ludicrous charges. ... He seems to have latched onto this theory much like other people latch onto UFO theories."

Campaign spokeswoman Torie Clarke, who complained that Bush's message was being lost in the Perot "dirty tricks" furor, appealed to reporters to either find some proof of Perot's accusations or "quit giving it a platform."

Bush, whose approach to economic cures relies primarily on tax incentives to stimulate private investment, in Denver that the choice between himself and Clinton, the front-runner, was not between "activity and passivity," as many voters believe.

"The real choice is between a liberal activist government that seeks to impose solutions on individuals, families and the private sector -- and a conservative activist government that gives individuals, businesses and families the means to make their own choices through competition and economic opportunity," he said.

Later, at a rally in Albuquerque, Bush told several hundred supporters that Clinton has "no feeling for foreign affairs or defense."

"He was the guy that said the Patriot missile was the one that goes down chimneys. Governor, that is Santa Claus."

The Patriot shot down Scud missiles during the Persian Gulf war, but is not a "smart bomb" that seeks out targets.

"I mean, come on," Bush continued as the crowd cheered. "This guy wants to be commander-in-chief, and he doesn't know the difference between a Patriot and Santa Claus."