The First Barber?

Tonight Show” host Jay Leno joked recently that Ross Perot’s campaign staff should choose the eagle as its official mascot. “Not a bald eagle,” Leno said, “but a regular eagle with a really bad haircut.”

As Perot crashes the political party, comedians and editorial cartoonists are zeroing in on his jug-eared, brash-cut look. So how does the man who trims the potentially presidential head take all of the criticism?

“We’ve been having a lot of fun with it,” says Bob Colombe, owner of Preston Forest Barbers in North Dallas and Perot’s trusted hair adviser for about 20 years. Colombe calls Perot’s look “a wash ’n’ wear cut. Not exactly a flattop and not a crew. We just leave it long enough for a slight part.”

Perot pays $10 for each visit, and though Colombe says tipping is a private matter, he does say with a wink that the presidential candidate “knows how to pay for a haircut.”

Colombe’s seven-chair barbershop has become an obligatory stopping point for journalists delving into Perot’s mystique, sort of a Dallas version of Jimmy Carter’s general store in Plains, Ga. Already, CBS’s “60 Minutes” has filmed in the shop and reporters from The Boston Globe, Esquire, the Austin American-Statesman and The Atlanta Constitution have made a pilgrimage to meet with Perot’s barber.

Colombe says he and Perot talk about boats, cars and Ross’s TV appearances. As for his media visitors, “I tell them this is a horse race, and Perot is leading and running on the rail.”

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