VALLEY FORGE, Pa., Aug. 17 -- Dallas billionaire Ross Perot on Saturday was given a second chance to win the presidential race when the Reform Party he founded named him its 1996 presidential candidate, beating out former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm. Four years ago, Perot, a conservative fiscal candidate who preaches a balanced budget, tax reform, term limits, job creation and lobby and campaign finance reform, made a stab at winning his place in the Oval Office, but came up short with only 19 percent of the vote. Should Perot manage an upset in November, it would be the first time in 136 years that a third party captured the White House. The Republican Party, with Abraham Lincoln as its candidate, was the last third party to win the presidency. The Reform Party named its candidate after members, using individual personal identification numbers, cast ballots by mail, telephone and Internet. Perot received 65.2 percent (32,145) of the 49,266 valid votes to Lamm's 34.8 percent (17,121), according to statistics compiled by Ernst and Young LLP. Perot, who opted not to name his running mate until he was named the candidate, was scheduled to deliver his acceptance speech at the party's second convention Sunday at the Valley Forge Convention Center, said his campaign spokesman Sharon Holman. The party's national convention, originally scheduled for Labor Day weekend, was bumped up in order to meet the earliest Aug. 22 deadlines for getting the third party on the ballot. Holman alleged some of the states still considering the party's paperwork are the same ones that gave exceptions to the Democrats, who have scheduled their convention after the Reform Party.
'We're on the ballot in 40 states,' she said on the eve of the national convention. 'We have eight states we've turned in the paperwork and are waiting verification in and currently working with two others. When we wrap those up, we will be on all 50 state ballots, and then we'll proceed with plans for a campaign now that we have a candidate.' Ballots were mailed to 1.3 million party members but only 49,266 of those returned were validated. Leo McElroy, a media consultant, said ballots submitted by mail accounted for 88 percent of the votes tabulated, telephone responses made up 8 percent and Internet accounted for 4 percent. But while the validity rates were high among mail users -- only 49 ballots were thrown out -- and Internet voters with 2,100 of 2,400 validated, the rate was microscopic among telephone callers who numbered more than 68,000 with only 4,000 being counted. 'The feeling was that this (form of nominating a candidate) was an extension of the direct democracy process that alot of Reform Party people really like,' McElroy said.