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Reform Partygoer's Wild Days

Jesse "The Body" Ventura, the former wrestler who took the nation's breath away when he won Minnesota's governorship by a landslide last November, now has come out with a book that has some readers squirming.

Known for an honesty not often associated with politics, the Reform Party leader's book has garnered some criticism for its graphic autobiographical details. Titled I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom Up, Ventura's book is part tell-all, part political tract.

In it, Ventura talks about his early years, including exploits with prostitutes, drug use, an aversion to underwear, and party-hearty days.

"I'm a believer in always telling the truth," Ventura told CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Russ Mitchell.

Answering the sharp call to rise to the level of role model, he says that someone at age 18 doesn't do things with the idea that "25 or 30 years from now, he might be a role model."

However, he says he is exactly the role model young people want:

"I've spoken to two different high school groups since the book came out. And I've asked them, 'Would you prefer me to tell you what you're supposed to hear? Would you prefer me to tell you what is politically correct or do you want the truth?' And overwhelmingly, the young people say, 'Governor, tell us
the truth.'"

Ventura explains that his book also shows what it was like to live in the late '60s and early '70s.

"I couldn't vote, I couldn't consume alcohol, I couldn't even play a nickel slot machine in Las Vegas, yet we could be drafted and sent to war," he recalls.

While some critics are dismayed by Ventura's explanation why he learned as a Navy S.E.A.L. to forego underwear, he advises the easily shocked not to read his book.

"You know, if I'm going to sit and write something boring that everybody is going to yawn at, who is going to buy it?" he asks.

As for his governorship, Ventura compares the adventure to body surfing.

"If you body surf, you pick out one wave and start swimming fast. At one point, the wave will pick you up and you don't have to swim anymore and it carries you. It is like that perfect body surfing wave. I'm being carried for four years now and four years from now, I'll get deposited on the beach, maybe," he says.

But Ventura says he does not have eyes for the presidency.

"I would never put my family through the scrutiny," he says. "It is tough enough being a governor and living under the microscope."

However, Ventura says he will not support fellow Reform Party man Ross Perot, if the Texas tycoon seeks the presidency in 2000.

"I respect everything he's done. He was an outstanding candidate in '92 and '96, but his numbers fell," Ventura says. "If we're going survive, we must come up with a new, viable good candidate...He needs to step aside in a supportive role now."

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