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A Reform Party Without Perot?

The Reform party is facing campaign 2000 with a new chairman whose first mission might be to calm some restless party members.

The signs of growing pains were apparent at last weekendÂ's convention. Some delegates stood behind party founder Ross Perot, while others lobbied for Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, longtime independent thinker Lowell Weicker, even multi-millionaire Donald Trump.

CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Thalia Assuras spoke with newly elected chairman Jack Gargan about the Reform partyÂ's new strategy.

Gargan, who was backed by Ventura, denies that his election should be seen as a rejection of Perot.

Â"It is a continuation of the political process,Â" he said. Â"The king is dead, long live the king, I guess you might compare it to.Â"

But as CBS News' Jim Axelrod reports, many Reform party members have apparently grown tired of hearing Perot's message.

"I didn't really care about hearing it that much, because 90 percent of what he says all the time, we've heard before," says Michael Zumbluskas.

Meanwhile, Ventura is popular enough to sell his own action figures and confident enough to suggest that Perot should move aside.

"He got 19 or 20 percent of the vote in '92," says Ventura. "Well, that was cut in half by '96. That's like a business indicator, and Mr. Perot's a businessman. He can see those indicators out there."

Is the Reform Party at a crossroads because of the volatility of the convention?

Â"ItÂ's a crossroads in that itÂ's time to move on,Â" says Gargan. Â"I think this was a great healing process that we went through over the past several days. And the crossroads is now behind us and weÂ're on the right track. Â"

With the presidential elections coming up, Gargan thinks voters unhappy with Democrats and Republicans are ready to consider a third party alternative.

Â"There are so many issues, and the people in the country are still totally dissatisfied with the corruption in government. We see a great opportunity and our role model is going to be Gov. Jesse Ventura,Â" he says.

Even though Ventura has said heÂ's not going to be a candidate for president?

Â"That doesnÂ't stop him from being one of the greatest role models that ever came down the road.Â"

What about Donald Trump?

Â"At this stage, anything is possible," Gargan says. "In fact, the candidates will just now start coming forward Â… The first, thing weÂ'll look at, is do they have a record of being a real reformer? WeÂ're not interested in any of the Democrat or Republican retreads, who are just looking at the $12.5 million that weÂ're going to have for their campaign.Â"

Is anybody coming forward then?

Â"Oh, theyÂ're coming out of the woodwork,Â" says Gargan.

Â"We can show this country a whole new direction, a whole new direction as Gov. Ventura has done. The people of Minnesota are tickled to death that they finally gave up that prase, Â'Your vote is wasted on a third party candidate.Â' TheyÂ're finding out, your vote isnÂ't wasted. It is actually saved.Â"

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