Comedian Pat Paulsen quickly dispensed with any doubts that's he running for president in 1992. "Pat Can Do in `92" is his slogan, and he recently cited many reasons why people should vote for him.
Experience:Paulsen ran for president in 1968, 1972 and 1988, and recently declared himself mayor of Asti, Calif., population "seven to nine."
"Having a comic in the White House will assure stability in foreign relations. The world will continue to respond to foreign initiatives by saying, `You must be joking."'
"No one is allowed to vote in Asti. We don't have any budget. We don't even have a jail."
He has a large base of supporters:
"People want me to run. All the people that didn't vote, I represent them. That's half of America. These are the people I represent."
He is respected by his peers:
When Clint Eastwood, former mayor of Carmel, Calif., learned of Paulsen's unilateral decision to take office, the actor muttered: "That's one way to do it."
His background is firmly rooted in the American tradition:
"I was a Depression baby. I don't mean I had a dent in my head; I grew up during the Depression."
Unlike President George Bush, Paulsen has no problem with "that vision thing." He boldly proclaims:
"Due to misunderstanding of the future, we are bound to make many more mistakes. Therefore, when I'm president I will lead this country into the past. By working backwards I feel we are bound to make less mistakes because we have already made them."
And unlike Vice President Dan Quayle, Paulsen has a distinguished record in the Armed Forces, serving in the Far East during World War II:
"I wanted to hurt somebody, I didn't succeed."
He's been a successful businessman:
In the tradition of Paul Newman's Salad Dressing, Paulsen is the proud owner of Pat Paulsen Vineyards in California's Sonoma County. He operates a 37-acre vineyard that produces cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay grapes:
"We take it and it rots and we make wine out of it. That's all there is, it isn't very romantic."
And now, proving that he's media friendly, Paulsen is bringing his message directly to the people - at least those who own a VCR. "Pat Paulsen on Wine" is a 45-minute video featuring remarks that promise to be as dry as the product at which they're poking fun.
"I've wanted to do this a long time," Paulsen said. "It's a video on wine, but we don't think it'll take 20 years to see if it's any good. The video is dry but not subversive. Full-bodied but not obnoxious.
"This is an amusing look at wine and its history."
The 61-year-old Paulsen was born in Washington but moved to California with his family when he was 10.
He gained fame in the late '60s as the deadpan comic featured on TV's "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." Like Paulsen, the Smothers Brothers had come up through folk clubs, such as the Gaslight in San Francisco and Cafe Wha in New York, and combined music with political comedy.
"There were no comedy clubs then," Paulsen recalled. "I did takeoffs on folk singers.
"The Smothers Brothers were working the Purple Onion in San Francisco; I thought they were incredible. I went up to Tom after one show and said, `You guys should put some comedy in your act.' Tom still remembers it."
In 1967, Tommy Smothers and Mason Williams, then a writer for the Smothers Brothers show, approached Paulsen with the idea of running for president, or actually, not running for president.
"I said, `OK, I can't dance.' We started by denying I was running. I was always a little on the edge."
Paulsen entered the 1968 campaign as the candidate for the S.T.A.G. (Straight Talking American Government) Party. Ever the pragmatic politician, he ran as a Republican in 1972 and has since shuttled between the two major parties.
"I'm running as a Democrat," the comedian once noted. "I ran as a Republican before but I like to mix it up."
After CBS cancelled the Smothers Brothers in 1969 because of the show's political content, Paulsen purchased some land in the Alexander Valley in Northern California and quite casually entered the wine business.
Paulsen, who still does occasional stand-up comedy, produces about 30,000 cases of wine each year. He is aware of the conflict between being a successful businessman and a comedian "on the edge."
"Of course, you can't always keep that edge," Paulsen admitted, "But I'm not a big corporation, it's just me.