Overwhelmed by telephone calls from people who want Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot to run for President, MCI has added hundreds of new lines and enlisted the Home Shopping Network to handle the calls pouring into the Dallas offices of a draft-Perot group.
Spokesmen for the long-distance phone company said Thursday that an 800 number set up by the Perot Petition Committee has been receiving 200,000 to 300,000 calls a day this week from people across the country who are seeking information or offering to help Perot.
The maverick businessman--who made headlines in 1979 when he organized a commando-style rescue of two employees from a Tehran prison during the Iranian revolution--said last week that he will run for President as an independent if "ordinary people" can get his name on the November ballot in all 50 states.
He has appeared on three nationwide television shows this week--"This Week With David Brinkley," "Donahue" and "This Morning"--each time touching off a flood of calls to his 800 number. MCI spokesman Paul Sims said that, in the last 10 days, more than 1 million calls have been made to the line, although an unknown percentage did not get through because of the heavy volume.
"It's just mind-boggling," he said.
MCI said the Perot committee originally had a dozen phone lines installed, but those were quickly overwhelmed. MCI planned to put in another 1,200 lines by today that will be answered through the Florida-based Home Shopping Network, which sells merchandise nationwide by flashing an 800 number on cable TV channels.