Weicker: We Need Reform Party

Former Connecticut governor Lowell Weicker, a liberal Republican, said Sunday the nation can thank the Reform Party for the good economy.

"Our prosperity is based on a balanced budget, an idea that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats adhered to until it was forced on them in 1992 by Ross Perot and the Reform Party," he said on CBS News' Face the Nation. "So to go ahead and start spending the money all the over the political stage again is just a case of Republicans and Democrats trying to buy the election."

Weicker denied he is seeking the Reform Party's presidential nomination.

"What I'm trying to do is push a third party challenge to both the Republicans and the Democrats," he said. "There are a lot of good people out there. If you can get them, General Colin Powell, Jesse Ventura, King of Maine. If the Democrats reject Bill Bradley, I'd love to see him.

"We can't resolve our major problems until we give competition to the monopoly that has been the Democrats and Republicans over the decades."

Weicker admitted the next presidential election may determine the future of the Reform Party.

"If we don't make a good showing in the year 2000, the whole concept of the third party, regardless who it is, goes down the chute," he said. "That would be a tragedy because what is needed is the competition to the monopoly."

Weicker said Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura's appeal is his freshness and candor.

"It was the fact he was perceived as giving out just good old-fashioned honest common sense and people were tired of political sleight of hand. That's the same Jesse I met with privately, the same one you see publicly. The American people are far more interested in that than they are the same old, same old, the Republican and Democratic party."

Weicker said Ventura wants him to run for President on the Reform Party ticket, but he has not said he will do so. He denied that the lack of presidential hopefuls so far dooms the party.

"Let's not be so fast on the trigger," he said. "We've got 16 months before the next election. I realize that the news media and the Republicans and Democrats have already scripted the whole thing, George W. Bush versus Al Gore. Sixteen months. That's part of our problem in this whole process. We get out way ahead of ourselves. I know the reform party is going to field a good candidate this year."

How much longer can the Reform Party wait?

"You certainly have to have a candidate within the next couple of months," he admitted.

Weicker said it doesn't appear party founder Ross Perot will be that candidate.

"I think right now he's pretty much out of it, and I think that he has to be given credit for what he's done which is monumental in terms of third party and issues and take senior status, if you will, as somebody supportive of this movement. But he shouldn't be the candidate."