"There are a lot of people who are frustrated because they don't have jobs . . . and they want new leadership," Wieder said. "But they want a leader, not some jack-in-the-box who pops up every time he gets his button pushed."
Board of Supervisors Chairman Roger R. Stanton, a Bush supporter, said he was "a little puzzled" by Perot's actions.
"A couple of months ago (Perot) took Harry Truman's advice and when the heat got too hot he got out of the kitchen," Stanton said. "Now that the heat's down, he's back in. I wouldn't be surprised if things got tough again, he dropped out again. There is time for him to do that."
At Perot's headquarters, the mood was decidedly different. About two dozen believers were glued to a TV set as the diminutive Texan announced his decision. Afterward, everyone said they were relieved Perot made the move.
"The fact that he might come back kept me here," said Bates, a Laguna Beach resident who has served on the Perot campaign since last spring. "I think he's already won. I think we the people won a lot. By jumping into the arena, he has forced the parties to realize the party is over."