Ross Perot is leaving the television studio for three days of campaigning, testing his appeal in person and starting big - in California.
The billionaire Texas businessman was holding rallies Thursday in California, where his supporters chalked up another success toward getting the likely independent candidate on November general-election ballots."This is a chance for us to congratulate each other more than it is a chance to see Mr. Perot," said Joey Belleau, a Perot volunteer from Santa Rosa. "It's great that he'll be here, but in some ways it's secondary."
California is the 16th state in which the Perot campaign apparently has met ballot requirements.
Perot has said he will finance his likely independent presidential campaign but will accept $5 donations. However, organizers of his California effort said Wednesday they were accepting donations up to $1,000 - the maximum allowed by law.
Perot was visiting Sacramento and the Orange County Republican stronghold of Irvine before heading to Denver on Friday and to Boston on Saturday for a parade and rally.
Along the way, Perot can assess support for his effort in three distinct political environments, yet all areas where polls show Perot leading President Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton.
The trip also will highlight one of the remarkable dynamics of the Perot candidacy: He saps strength from Bush in areas like California and throughout the Republican-leaning West but more from Clinton in traditionally Democratic regions like the Northeast.