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Poll Says 1 in 4 Voters Back Perot

ONE in four registered voters say they would vote for Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot if the presidential election were held today, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday.

The poll signaled Mr. Perot's grass-roots campaign is picking up steam, though the avowed "outsider" says he will run only if supporters get his name on the ballot in all 50 states.

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The poll was conducted April 11-14 among 1,001 registered voters and has a 4 percentage point margin of error.

President Bush led the field with 38 percent of the voters saying they would back him or lean toward his reelection.

Democratic front-runner Bill Clinton followed with a 30 percent rating, and independent Perot scored 25 percent.

Perot is not officially running. But for the past seven weeks He has been riding high on a wave of voter discontent with Washington. His personal fortune is estimated at more than $2 billion, and Perot has said he is willing to spend "whatever it takes" to fund a campaign - even as much as $150 million.

Although 31 percent of the voters questioned said they had a positive reaction to the tough-talking businessman, only 15 percent said they knew much about Perot.

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