DALLAS — Ross Perot, the billionaire tycoon who mounted two unsuccessful third-party presidential campaigns in the 1990s, died Tuesday, family spokesman James Fuller confirmed to CNN. He was 89.
A billionaire by his mid-50s after he sold a controlling interest in the data processing business he founded, Electronic Data Systems Corporation, to General Motors for $2.5 billion, Perot mounted one of the most successful third-party presidential candidacies in US history in 1992. He garnered nearly 19% of the vote and finished third behind Bill Clinton and incumbent President George H.W. Bush.
Perot directly challenged Clinton and Bush’s support of the North American Free Trade Agreement during the election cycle, and argued the treaty would cause the loss of American jobs.
In 1995, he created the Reform Party, and the following year received 8% of the vote in the presidential election as the party’s candidate.
Perot also received national attention for his efforts during the Vietnam War to create better conditions for US prisoners of war. He traveled to Laos, where he met with ambassadors from Russia and North Vietnam, and was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Public Service by the Department of Defense in 1974 for his efforts. In 1979, when two EDS employees were taken hostage during a revolution in Iran, he organized and paid for a successful private mission to rescue the men and bring them home.
“In business and in life, Ross was a man of integrity and action. 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,” Fuller said in a statement. “Ross Perot will be deeply missed by all who loved him. He lived a long and honorable life.”
Perot appeared in Richmond during a 1992 President Debate where he shared the stage with then President George Bush and future President Bill Clinton.