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Perot Won't Rule Out 1996 Bid

By Susan Baer
The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON

As his prospects continue to dim for a win this election year, independent presidential candidate Ross Perot appears to be keeping the door open for a run for the White House in 1996.

In an interview with David Frost that airs Friday night on PBS, part of 90-minute special on all three presidential candidates, the Texas billionaire, asked if he would run again, says that he isn't thinking that way right now, but adds, "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

Perot has been falling in the polls ever since last weekend when he told rally audiences and "60 Minutes" that he quit the race last summer because of reports that the Bush campaign was planning to smear his daughter and disrupt her wedding.

In Thursday night's NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, Perot's support fell to 11 percent -- down four points in the previous 24 hours -- and the plain-speaking businessman is now trailing front-runner Bill Clinton by more than 30 points in most national polls.

Although he has acknowledged that he has no proof of Republican dirty tricks planned against him, and has said that he accepts the Bush camp's flat denial of the charges, he suggests on the David Frost program that he still believes them.

Asked if it was not irresponsible of him to air charges that were unsubstantiated, untrue rumors, he says: "Unsubstantiated and untrue are two different things ... there's a lot of evidence, there's a lot of evidence."

But insisting, "I'm not paranoid," he repeated a claim he made earlier in the year that his character has been redefined since he entered the presidential race. "You will never find the word `paranoid' used once in all of the thousands, hundreds of thousands of words written about me before this started."