Ross Perot, stuck in third place in the polls, asked an adoring post-debate crowd to keep the faith and stick with him until Election Day.
The independent presidential candidate told a crowd of more than 1,200 to ignore the media analysis of Monday night's debate with President Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton. And he delivered a stern tongue-lashing to the press for its coverage of the campaign."They think you are an unprogrammed robot and through these messages they are going to tell you how to vote on Nov. 3," he said.
Perot judged his own performance modestly, but the crowd that watched the debate on three big screen televisions delivered its own analysis.
"You won," supporters shouted.
A feisty Perot told reporters, "I did the best I could. That's all you can do."
Asked to assess how the debate affects his standing, Perot told reporters, "You just continue your day in, day out negative statements about it."
The Texan referred to reporters as a bunch of teenage boys.
"You guys have less respect in this country than Congress," he said.
"I think you'll do anything for a `gotcha' story. That just means anything that'll get you a headline, get you a bonus. You get among your peers and you high five and say, `OK, now I'm a big man. I got a story on the front page.'
"I think you have an enormous responsibility under the First Amendment that you don't dis-charge."
Perot accused Bush and Clinton of dodging his questions about pending bank failures and Bush's instructions to his ambassador to Iraq prior to the Persian Gulf war.
He said they also avoided discussing foreign lobbyists he said worked in their campaigns.
"I came back again and again and again to foreign lobbyists on presidential campaigns and that's just like a skunk showing up at a picnic. Nobody ever wants to talk about that and you all don't ever write about that," he said at a news conference after the debate.