Ross Perot, billionaire who sought USA presidency, dead at 89

Ross Perot, billionaire who sought USA presidency, dead at 89

He ran unsuccessfully for president as an independent candidate in 1992 and 1996, during which he tapped into a deep ideological sentiment that swung the outcome of both elections.

H. Ross Perot, the colourful, self-made Texas billionaire who rose from a childhood of Depression-era poverty and twice ran for president as a third-party candidate, has died aged 89.

Perot died after a five-month battle with leukemia, family spokesman James Fuller said.

"In business and in life, Ross was a man of integrity and action", his family's statement said.

The 1992 campaign - during which Perot spent $63m (£50m) of his own money - made him a household name.

His 1992 independent presidential bid - the most successful third-party candidacy in eight decades - exposed fault lines in the United States political system that would some day result in electoral earthquakes. After his unsuccessful lobbying efforts, Perot chose to run for president, launching historical changes in third party politics.

Perot's was truly a grassroots campaign.

Many had crew cuts, like Mr Perot.

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Perot was born in Texarkana, Texas, on June 27, 1930. In later years, Perot endorsed Republican candidates including George W. Bush and Mitt Romney.

His Texas twang, populist platform - he memorably railed against the North American Free Trade Agreement, warning of a "giant sucking sound" of American jobs to other countries if passed - and frequent TV appearances brought him wide recognition, and his 1992 campaign, in which he garnered almost 19 per cent of the vote and finished third behind Bill Clinton and incumbent President George H.W. Bush, remains one of the most successful third-party bids in American history. He ended up with 19% of the popular vote without receiving a single Electoral College vote.

He was known for his catchphrase the "giant sucking sound", referring to American jobs that would head to Mexico because of NAFTA.

Perot's first civilian job was a salesman for IBM. He turned the company over to son Ross Jr. and Dell bought it in 2009 for $3.9 billion.

He had founded EDS in 1962 and sold control of it to General Motors for $2.5 billion in 1984.

It was during the Nixon administration that Perot became involved in the issue of US prisoners of war in Southeast Asia.

"Ross came to the prison one day and said, 'We're going to get you out, '" one of the men, Paul Chiapparone, told The Associated Press.

While Trump found himself in the late summer of 2016 dumping Paul Manafort and installing Kellyanne Conway as his campaign manager, Perot fired his ad maker, which led to a major strategist quitting the campaign. He also worked to try to free American POWs in Vietnam. His personal office was dominated by large paintings of his wife and five children and bronze sculptures by Frederic Remington.

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