Perot Vows To Fight To The End

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: That's Ross for Boss, not Ross in a supporting role. Bob Dole's last-ditch effort to shake up the presidential race stalled when Ross Perot rebuffed Dole's request to withdraw from the campaign and throw his support to the Republican ticket. In a rare campaign speech before the National Press Club on Thursday, Perot called Dole's overture "weird and totally inconsequential" and said he was in the race to stay. Perot said he would not discuss details of his Wednesday meeting with Dole campaign manager Scott Reed. But he said, "Do I intend to campaign to the bitter end? Yes." Perot running mate Pat Choate said Dole's request proved he was not a viable candidate and urged Republicans to support the Reform Party ticket. "When he knows he can't win, he asks us to bow out of the race," Choate said. Dole's dramatic overture, less than two weeks before the election, is further proof of his struggling campaign. A new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll shows President Clinton at 52 percent, Dole at 35 percent and Perot at 6 percent. Dole has spent the last two days canvassing the South, an area that has been solidly Republican but where Clinton is leading in many states. The Dole campaign, which worries that Perot will split the anti-Clinton vote, felt Perot's withdrawal could tip the scales their way in key battleground states such as Texas and Florida. But polls show Perot supporters back Clinton in similar proportions to the general electorate. -- Josh Dubow