Ross Perot, Texas Billionaire & Ex-Presidential Candidate, Dies At 89 After Leukemia Battle
Ross Perot, the billionaire from Texas who twice ran for U.S. president in the 1990s, died Tuesday in his hometown of Dallas at the age of 89. Perot had been suffering from leukemia.
Before earning billions in the computer business, Perot was a Navy officer, an IBM salesman and also a philanthropist who was a major supporter of education and vehemently against drugs. He founded and served as the chief executive officer of information tech services companies Perot Systems and Electronic Data Systems, and also ran for president in 1992 as an Independent and again in 1996 as a third-party candidate from the Reform Party, which he helped form.
Perot was known for his brash behavior and at times populist rhetoric about returning the United States to the so-called “Norman Rockwell’s America” era. He even reportedly embraced conspiracy theories at times and had allegedly forced his employees to take lie detector tests. In the 1992 presidential election, he secured 19 percent of the popular vote, which marked the best third-party finish since Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose run in 1912. His second presidential bid in 1996 was even more remarkably unsuccessful, as he finished with just 8 percent of the total vote after many voters became unconvinced by his autocratic tendencies.
Perot also once attempted to fly food and medicine to prisoners of war in North Vietnam in 1969 and staged a commando raid in Iran during the country’s revolution in 1979. Thousands of criminals and political prisoners, as well as two of Perot’s employees, were freed after that raid.
Some prominent Republicans, including George W. Bush, also reportedly said they believed Perot’s 1992 presidential run has cost George H.W. Bush a second term. Many political pundits disputed this claim, citing exit poll results. Bush Sr. earned 38 percent of the vote in that election and Bill Clinton won 43 percent of all votes.
Perot later endorsed George W. Bush for president in 2000 and backed Mitt Romney in 2012. The billionaire was also listed as the 97th-richest man in America in 2008, according to Forbes, after he amassed $5 billion.