DEARBORN, Mich. — Reform Party founder Ross Perot urged his party Saturday night to remain united and continue to fight for a balanced budget, term limits and campaign reform.
Perot didn't say whether he is interested in seeking his party's nomination for a third presidential run.
But many waved Perot placards and hooted with approval during his 40-minute campaign-style speech at the party's national convention here.
"I want the American people to understand what real democracy is all about," he said, waving his arms toward about 580 conventioneers.
"I want them to understand that you have worked your hearts out since 1992 for one reason: that you love this country."
Perot said the country must return to a moral foundation, saying the party should never nominate a candidate "that could not be a good role model for our children and grandchildren."
He also called for tax reform, a complete overhaul of Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security and shorter election campaigns that would cost less.
But he also seemed to recognize those in the party who have said they don't want him to make another presidential run in 2000, promising to stay "as long as I am helpful to the organization."
"The last thing I want is what I see in the papers day in and day out, about cat fights and what have you that have nothing to do with fact," he said.
Perot, a Dallas billionaire, has been the party's most famous face since his 1992 presidential run.
But some party members, including influential Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, say Perot's diminishing returns in the 1996 presidential race have convinced them he should step aside and let someone else run.
Several Reform Party members announced plans to draft retired Gen. Colin L. Powell for the 2000 presidential race, even though it's a job Powell says he doesn't want.
Max Shaffer, 53, an Illinois construction worker dressed like Uncle Sam, said he supports Ventura for the 2000 nomination despite prior votes for Perot.
"Ross Perot is the most honorable founder of our party, a good citizen who founded something that will last a lifetime.
"But based on the performance in Ventura's election, I have a feeling he could do that nationwide," Shaffer said, referring to Ventura's surprise victory last year over two well-known rivals.