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Perot-Choate Ticket Discovers First Obstacle: Choate's Mom

By Donald P. Baker
The Washington Post

On his first full day as a candidate, Ross Perot's newly annointed running mate, Washington political economist Pat Choate, wasted no time trying to raise the Reform Party's flimsy standing in the polls.

He began by asking his mother to support the new party or at least stop bad mouthing it.

Betty Choate, 84, who lives in the crossroads town of Maypearl, about 40 miles south of here, was asked Tuesday night what she thought her son's chances were of becoming vice president. "I don't think it will ever amount to much, but I'm proud people have that much respect for him," she told a Dallas reporter who had telephoned.

Wednesday, Betty Choate told another inquiring reporter, "My son called me this morning and told me not to give any more interviews."

"She's a straight shooter," Choate said proudly. "I called her and said, well, Mom, I see you're giving interviews.' She said, 'you guys have a hard job to do,' and I agreed, so she told me, 'go work hard."'

That's what Choate began to do Wednesday, introducing himself and taking questions for 45 minutes at Perot-Choate headquarters here. His access to reporters was in marked contrast to would-be president Perot, who hasn't held a news conference in more than three years. Perot prefers to communicate with the public via appearances on television, in 30-minute paid "infomercials" and on talk shows.

Choate said he too will use the airwaves a lot. "I love talk radio," said Choate, who until Tuesday hosted a weekly show distributed by a radio network that he began earlier this year. Choate said he won't appear on his former network, but will appear on other talk shows and with Perot on his infomercials.

Infomercials are a great way of reaching the "vast number of angry Americans" who distrust the media, Choate said. He added that there is "an increasing disconnect between the elite and the masses of people."

Earlier Wednesday, Choate, discounted a recent poll showing 74 percent of respondents thought Perot had neither the personality nor the temperament to be president. "I think they feel that way because of the images that are being presented to them by the national media, and the spin that comes out from both political parties," he said on NBC "Today" show.

"Once people come to know Perot," Choate added, "I believe that they will swing to him and want him because, of the three candidates, Perot is the only one that is really talking in detail about the substantive issues."

In addition to writing six books and hundreds of articles, Choate teaches part-time at the George Washington University graduate school of political management.

One friend described him as "a knee-jerk moderate."