DALLAS, Nov. 4, 1992 (UPI) - Campaign aides of Ross Perot, after a night of soul- searching their candidate's unsuccessful bid for the White House, Wednesday proclaimed the effort a ''tremendous victory'' that earned the billionaire nearly 20 percent of the popular vote.
Clayton Mulford, Perot's general counsel and also his son-in-law, and other aides summoned the media for a final briefing in which they also gave strong indications the maverick Texan's ''United We Stand, America'' grass-root organization will emerge as a third party.
Maintaining the same up-beat mood that Perot showed in his concession speech the previous night, the aides gave Perot the credit for keeping the election focused on the economy and changing the course of the political process.
''We feel terrific about what happened yesterday,'' Mulford said. ''We went into this little more than 30 days ago and at that point Mr. Perot was 7 percent in the polls and to do as wall as we did was really remarkable. But more than that what we are really pleased with was the outstanding turnout in the election and we think Ross Perot was responsible for that.''
Perot ran the strongest third candidate race since Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 but did not win any states or pick up any electoral votes.
Still, Mulford said the Perot legacy will elevate political discussion in all future presidential campaigns.
''We think the populous and the citizens are better than the government they get,'' he said. ''They are smarter than the political establishment thinks they are. We think we have proven that. So, for us it is a tremendous victory and we are delighted about it.''
Mulford also announced the campaign spent a ''little over'' $60 milion with half of that going to pay for television and other media advertising.
Orson Swindle, executive director of United We Stand, said the group will continue its work.
''In all candor there is no way we can stop it,'' he said. ''This is truly a phenomenon that is unparalleled in the history of the country, politically at least as far as my recollection goes.''
Swindle said he would spend the next week working with attorneys and representatives from different regions to give a formal structure to the group with a charter and by-laws. He said the group will be open and urged everyone to ''jump in and join.''
Asked if Perot will continue to finance the group, Swindle said Perot will always be its spiritual leader and ''knowing Mr. Perot, he is a man of extraordinary genorosity.''
In answer to a question, Swindle said the group might field its own candidates in the future. He said the fact that more than 19 million people voted for Perot was significant.
''So I think the basis for a third party is there if the group wishes to pursue that as an ultimate end,'' he said.
He said a third party made up of Perot supporters can ''make a powerful, powerful push.''
Swindle said President-elect Bill Clinton should not get burdened by his party's philosophy which his group will not tolerate.
''I am hoping he sincerely is saying he wants to spur on entrepreneurship and the private sector because if he is really talking old time Democratic approach to things, that is the government can do better, we are not going to solve the problem and I really like to see Mr. Clinton hit the ground running today and go out and attack these problems in a manner that will get them done so we can get the country back on track,'' he said.