Luce could barely disguise his fury at Rollins, saying that his efforts to blame Perot for his own failures represented "politics at its worst."
Luce agreed that Perot rejected Rollins' advertising plan but gave a different reason. "We had serious and substantive differences that had nothing to do with money but how it should be spent and how the campaign should be run. We felt strongly that this should not be a rerun of 'Morning in America,' " Luce said.
He was referring to the ad campaign that Rollins and San Francisco adman Hal Riney put together for Ronald Reagan's successful 1984 reelection campaign. Rollins brought Riney into the Perot camp to create image-making ads but, after one look at his proposed spots, Perot fired him.
Rollins said that Democratic nominee Bill Clinton would be the immediate beneficiary of Perot's departure because he will be seen as the only remaining candidate for change. But--in an obvious attempt to mend fences with the Republican Party, which he bolted to work for Perot--Rollins added that he would vote for Bush and expects the President to win back many of the disaffected Republicans who supported Perot.
In a parting shot, Rollins said that in the 45 days he worked for Perot, he came to believe that the industrialist's "temperament was probably not quite right to be the President of the United States."
Luce retorted: "There is obviously a temperamental difference between Ronald Reagan and Ross Perot. He is not quite as manageable. He is not able to be scripted."
As the Dallas billionaire's top aides traded recriminations, Perot met for a second day with leaders of the volunteer movement to discuss how they could remain involved in national politics.
About 40 volunteers from around the country urged Perot to reconsider his decision to quit the presidential quest, but Perot would not be swayed. He will, however, allow them to continue efforts to place his name on all 50 general election ballots and will provide financial support to a coalition to keep his agenda before the public.
Paul Fisher, volunteer coordinator for Nevada, said Perot told the group that he would continue his efforts to address the nation's ills.
"He is not afraid. He is not backing out because he was threatened," Fisher said, addressing recurring rumors that Perot quit because of threats on his life or because the Republican Party had some damaging information about him. "He realizes that even if he were elected President, that would not solve the problems."
He said that every volunteer in the room had a different idea about how to structure the movement and what role to play in local, state and national politics. The group did not agree on a name for their coalition; some believed it should not even be formally organized.
"We don't want this to be a private organization or a cult," Fisher said. "We want this to be an organization for all Americans."