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Reform Party Ends Meeting Lacking Plan

November 03, 1997|From Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Reform Party members wound up a national convention Sunday with encouragement from founder Ross Perot but little unity on a political strategy for becoming a national power.

During their three-day session, 400 delegates approved a constitution and drafted a platform, taking steps needed to make the Reform Party a national organization rather than an alliance of state parties.

Delegates spoke repeatedly of breaking the dominance of the Democratic and Republican parties in American politics.

However, they and their leaders did not outline any strategy for doing it.

Sometimes, Reform Party leaders talked only about influencing the debate on issues such as campaign finance reform and the federal budget. Other times, they advocated electing candidates by starting with municipal and state elections.

They received praise and enthusiasm from Perot, but little advice.

"This is going to be a really great adventure," Perot said during his keynote address Saturday night. "We've just got to keep up the fight."

Some delegates and activists said the party must start by electing city council members, county commissioners and school board members.

"We need to build from the local level, just build it from the bottom," said Charlie Patel, a University of Alabama, Huntsville, student and vice chairman of a fledgling college Reform Party group.

Pat Choate, Perot's vice presidential running mate in the last election, suggested that Reform Party members target 40 to 50 of the most vulnerable Republicans in the House for defeat in 1998.

"We can win enough votes to shift control of the House," Choate said. "We should then remind the Democrats that we can turn them out again. . . . This party henceforth can determine who runs Congress and who will be a congressional potted plant."

Convention delegates insisted their efforts are bigger than Perot and said he is only their spokesman.

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