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Billionaire Ross Perot has died

by Russell St. John
Posted 7/09/19, 11:34 am

H. Ross Perot, a billionaire businessman and a two-time presidential candidate, died Tuesday at his home in Dallas, according to a family spokesman. He was 89.

Born in Texarkana, Texas, and the son of a commodities broker, Perot graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1953. In 1956, he married his college sweetheart, Margot Birmingham. After leaving the service, he began working at IBM. He founded Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in 1962 with a $1,000 loan from his wife. In 1984, he sold the business to General Motors for $2.5 billion.

Perot was active in politics and worked with President Richard Nixon’s administration to secure the release of U.S. prisoners of war in Vietnam. In 1979, Iranians took captive two EDS employees. Perot funded a rescue mission, traveled to Iran, and secured the release of his employees, crediting his mother, who told him, “You sent them over there, and it’s your obligation to get them out.”

On CNN’s Larry King Live in February 1992, Perot promised to run for president of the United States as a third-party candidate if the American people put him on the ballot in all 50 states. Armed with the populist appeal of a self-made man, Perot offered no apologies: “If voters don’t have a stomach for me, they can get one of those blow-dried guys.” Although he did not appear on the ballot in every state, Perot received 19 percent of the popular vote in 1992 and ran again in 1996, garnering 8 percent of the vote. When asked about the North American Free Trade Agreement during a 1992 presidential debate, Perot famously quipped that, should it pass, “there will be a giant sucking sound going south.”

Perot later abandoned the Reform Party his candidacy helped to establish and endorsed George W. Bush prior to the 2000 presidential election. He continued to call for fiscal responsibility in government, launching a blog in 2008 to oppose federal entitlements.

Perot’s wife, five children, and numerous grandchildren survive him.


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