Mr Dole's campaign manager Scott Reed made the urgent entreaty at an meeting with Perot in Dallas. The results of the session were not clear last night, though an unnamed Reform Party source said in advance that it was unlikely Perot would end his candidacy.
A spokeswoman for Mr Perot said she was not aware of any Perot-Reed meeting but stated emphatically: "Mr Perot has no intention of quitting the race, no intention whatsoever." The Dole campaign team was not available for comment.
Whatever the outcome, the plea was evidence of the deep frustration within the Dole campaign as the 1996 campaign entered the final 12 days with Mr Clinton ahead by 15 points or more in the polls.
Republican sources said the decision to make a pitch for Mr Perot's endorsement grew out of internal discussions about how to shake up the race in the closing days.
An endorsement by Mr Perot could swing several states in Dole's favour, especially in the Mountain West. Texas and Florida are also two traditionally Republican states where Mr Clinton and Mr Dole are running neck-and-neck with Mr Perot on roughly 6 per cent.
Mr Dole decided to go forward with the entreaty despite Perot's unpredictability and recent bad blood between the Dole and Perot camps, the Republican sources said.
In making the eleventh-hour entreaty to Mr Perot, the Dole campaign implicitly acknowledged that its recent strategy of attacking Mr Clinton's ethics has failed to cut into his lead.Reuse content