Ross Perot, expired early Tuesday at his home in Dallas, at 89 age. The colorful Texas billionaire businessman who ran twice for president, first as an independent and then as a third-party candidate.
His family said in a statement, Perot who had fought leukemia, family members was surrounded by him when he died.
“In business and in life, Ross was a man of integrity and action,” the statement read. “A true American patriot and a man of rare vision, principle and deep compassion, he touched the lives of countless people through his unwavering support of the military and veterans and through his charitable endeavors.”
Henry Ross Perot was born in Texarkana, Texas in 1930. He done his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy and worked for several years at IBM. He went on to make his fortune in the tech industry, founding computer Services Company Electronic Data Systems in 1962 and Perot Systems in 1988.
In 1979, he famously financed a rescue mission for two employees of Electronic Data Systems who had been arrested in Iran.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that Perot was “a true patriot and a steadfast support of our military.”
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) July 9, 2019
He competed for president in 1992 as an independent with the campaign motto “Ross for Boss.” He emphasized his political outsider status in the lead-up to the vote. “Now, just for the record, I don’t have any spin doctors. I don’t have any speechwriters. Probably shows,” he joked during the campaign.
Perot won almost 19% of the popular vote in the race, which was eventually won by Bill Clinton.
Ross Perot, shown here during a 1992 campaign commercial, made cutting the national debt a centerpiece of his presidential runs.
“He burst on the scene as something of a phenomenon,” NPR Washington editor and correspondent Ron Elving says, adding that Perot received “the most votes for anyone other than the Republican or Democratic nominee since Teddy Roosevelt back in 1912.” Perot worked well mostly in rural counties, Elving says, though he didn’t win any states.
Throughout his 1992 campaign, he ran TV campaign ads that prolonged for half an hour. He said during a presidential debate, “I love the fact that people will listen to a guy with a bad accent and a poor presentation manner talking about flip charts for 30 minutes, because they want the details.”
Perot founded the Reform Party and ran for president again in 1996. “I have no desire to be in public life, as far as having to live up there in a bubble and put up with all this stuff, you know. I think I’d rather have heart surgery without anesthetic, but having said that, if the members in 1996 insist that I run again, I will do it for them,” he said prior to the vote. “If that’s what we have to do to shock the system and to get the changes, we’ll do it.”
He won more than 8% of the popular vote.
Both times he ran, his platforms were “centered on campaign reform, protecting American workers from outsourcing and cutting the national debt,” his website states. Perot was particularly outspoken against the North American Free Trade Agreement and frequently referred to the “giant sucking sound” it would create.
In 2000, Perot opted not to run, and the Reform Party went through a nominating process — and Elving notes that “one of the people who got interested in that and briefly ran in it was Donald Trump.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that Perot “exemplified what it means to be a Texan and an American.” He said that the businessman’s rise showed that Perot was “an exemplar of the American dream.”