Published: Thu, July 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Ross Perot, Billionaire and Former Presidential Candidate, Dead at 89

Ross Perot, Billionaire and Former Presidential Candidate, Dead at 89

Nancy Perot said there was a private, tender side to her father that was often eclipsed by his bolder-than-life public persona.

Some Republicans blamed him for Bush's lost to Clinton as Perot garnered the largest percentage of votes for a third-party candidate since former President Theodore Roosevelt's 1912 bid.

But the wealthy businessman had humble roots.

He was born in 1930 to a cotton broker father in Texarkana, excelling at everything he set his mind to - from paper boy to the Boy Scouts to becoming class president at the U.S. Naval Academy. And what his family lacked in money, they made up for with values.

"But I am a quick learner so I quickly always had a jacket and a tie in the closet of my office with strict orders downstairs when they saw that auto pull up to call. What matters is did you do the right thing", he once said. He was class president and a battalion commander. He married Margot Birmingham in 1956. They went on to have five children. He then got a job selling computer systems for IBM. But he had bigger dreams.

A BBC story said, "Described as idiosyncratic and feisty, he pioneered the computer data industry by founding his own company in 1962".

Perot continued to speak out about federal spending for many years. By 2000, Perot had mostly faded from the national political radar. EDS went on to receive lucrative government contracts in the 1960s.

With a net worth of $4.1 million, in 2002 the Perot family started The Perot Foundation. In 2008, EDS was sold to Hewlett-Packard Co.

He became a hero to many in 1969 when he flew two jetliners filled with food to Southeast Asia in an attempt to help Americans held captive in North Vietnam. In 1979, he undertook the campaign to bring back two EDS employees, detained during the revolution of Iran.

He paid the group an undisclosed amount of cash and said the US government had no knowledge of his plan.

He got almost 19 percent of the vote as an independent running on a campaign against NAFTA - which both Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush supported. A huge grassroots effort was mobilized.

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SMU Presidential Historian Jeff Engel is writing a book about the 1992 presidential election. Many had crew cuts, like Perot.

"Maybe it was voodoo economics". And certainly it's appropriate because as you and I know, we are in deep voodoo. "Ha, ha, ha", he said.

But his unconventional behavior and style hurt the campaign.

Democrat Bill Clinton won the three-way race, in which Mr Perot took nearly 19% of the vote. As the 1996 election approached, he founded the Reform Party, which would attract other notable political candidates including Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader, and Jesse Ventura. He died at his home in Dallas.

"He had tremendous tenacity, but it was combined with great vision", said Tom Luce, Perot's longtime business and personal attorney.

Jobs managed to impress many people in his life. While he's often credited with helping deliver the presidency to Clinton after 12 years of Republican rule under Bush and Ronald Reagan, The New York Times reports his candidacy didn't appeal to Republicans alone. Peake commented at the time that Perot's advocacy embodied "the very spirit of America". He was involved in educational reform in Texas and bought from Britain a 13th-century copy of Magna Carta which is now in the national archives in Washington.

While a TC student from 1947-1949, Perot also served as editor-in-chief of the yearbook, which he helped found. When the new location opened in 2012, it was named the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in the family's honor.

"Mr. Perot was an engineer at heart". His television infomercials, trumpeting his main slogan of "United We Stand America", were ubiquitous in that pre-Internet age.

Perot was a natural salesman who made a fortune in computer services but he was an unlikely and unconventional politician.

His 1992 numbers were even better. "World class" was always a word he used".

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