Called by many the "Perot Party," the Reform Party was created in 1995 under pressure from Ross Perot's grassroots "citizen's watchdog group," United We Stand. This new party centered around their star candidate, Ross Perot, and has focused almost entirely on trying to shape presidential politics.
With what many critics call a limited agenda, the Reform Party considers campaign finance reform, term limits, a balanced budget, and lobbyist control its primary concerns. The Reform platform concentrates on economic issues, due mainly to Perot's influence. The party frames its major issues in a "Principles of Reform" -- a nine-point pledge on governmental and economic reforms that all candidates must follow. Buoyed by polls that showed nearly two out of three voters dissatisfied with the current political parties, the Reform Party aims to provide an alternative for those Americans unhappy with their political choices.
The Reform Party has been criticized for its narrow focus on the presidential election. The party's strategy is to concentrate all of its money and resources on one large goal, rather than fielding candidates for other offices. In its first year the party gathered for a two-part convention, the first session in Long Beach, Calif., and the second one in Valley Forge, Pa. In between, Reform Party members voted via phone, mail, or the Internet for their presidential choice, selecting Perot over rival Dick Lamm, the former Colorado governor.
In its short existence, the Reform Party has demonstrated significant success. In their first election, the race for the presidency in 1996, Perot appeared on the ballot in all 50 states and received 980,000 votes, finishing third after Clinton and Dole.
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