Ross Perot, billionaire and third-party presidential candidate dies at 89

Erika Holt
July 10, 2019

Ross Perot, the billionaire tycoon who mounted two unsuccessful third-party presidential campaigns in the 1990s, died Tuesday, family spokesman James Fuller confirmed to CNN. He was sadly diagnosed with leukemia back in February of this year (2019). He founded Electronic Data Systems 1962 and Perot Systems 1988.

In the wake of widespread dissatisfaction with the incumbent Republican President George H.W. Bush and his Democratic rival, then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, Perot briefly become the frontrunner in June of 1992, when he earned the support of 37 percent of national voters compared to 24 percent each for his opponents. His 1992 presidential campaign was one of the most successful independent runs of the 20 century, winning almost 20% of the popular vote.

He ran unsuccessfully for president twice as a third-party candidate, but only got 8 percent of the vote total during his second run in 1996. Two decades later, General Motors would purchase a controlling interest in the company for $2.4 billion.

He eventually re-entered the race, but his reputation had suffered. In 1968, Fortune magazine called him the "fastest, richest Texan" and put him on the cover. In 1986, GM paid Perot $750 million for his remaining stock in EDS.

Wallace recalled that Perot was a self-made billionaire "when it meant something", before there were so many other billionaire moguls in the United States.

He retired as chief executive in 2000 and was succeeded by his son, Ross Perot Jr.

At the request of the governor, Perot became involved in Texas state politics in the early 1980s by proposing reforms to the public school system.

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Mr Perot first became known to Americans outside of business circles by claiming that the USA government left behind hundreds of American soldiers who were missing or imprisoned at the end of the Vietnam War.

"I was down in Texas taking care of business, tending to my family, (but) this situation got so bad that I decided I better get into it", he later said during a presidential debate.

The exploit was recounted in a book, "On Wings of Eagles", by Ken Follett, which became a best-seller. Hardware accounted for about 80% of the computer business, Perot said, and IBM wasn't interested in the other 20%, including services.

In 1969, the Defense Department recognized Perot for his work getting aide to POWs in Vietnam. He was given many honorary degrees and awards for business success and patriotism.

At the Perot Systems headquarters he kept mementoes, including his childhood bicycle and a walking stick believed to have belonged to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. He is survived by his wife Margot, along with his five children and 16 grandchildren.

Several original Norman Rockwell paintings hung in the waiting area. Whatever it was, we are now in deep voodoo, I'll tell you that.

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