Ross Perot death: Texas billionaire and former presidential candidate dies, age 89

World News

Ross Perot, a Texas billionaire who ran for president twice in 1992 and 1996, has passed away, according to a family spokesperson. He was 89-years-old.

Mr Perot rose from Depression-era poverty to become one of the nation’s richest men as the founder of computer services giant Electronic Data Systems Corp.

In 1992, he jumped into the presidential campaign as an independent candidate, challenging former President George HW Bush and then-Democratic candidate Bill Clinton.

Mr Perot drew nearly 19 per cent of the vote, the biggest percentage for a third-party hopeful in 80 years. Republicans blamed him for Mr Bush’s defeat.

He had founded EDS in 1962 and sold control of it to General Motors for $2.5bn (£2bn) in 1984. He later founded another company, Perot Systems.

Mr Perot first became known to Americans outside of business circles by claiming that the US government left behind hundreds of American soldiers who were missing or imprisoned at the end of the Vietnam War.

He fanned the issue at home and discussed it privately with Vietnamese officials in the 1980s, angering the Reagan administration, which was formally negotiating with Vietnam’s government.

His wealth, fame and confident prescription for the nation’s economic ills ultimately propelled his 1992 campaign.

During the campaign, Perot spent millions of his own money and bought up 30-minute television spots. He used charts and graphs to make his points, summarising them with a line that became a national catchphrase: “It’s just that simple.”

Mr Perot’s second campaign four years later was far less successful. He was shut out of presidential debates when organisers said he lacked sufficient support. He got just 8 per cent of the vote, and the Reform Party that he founded and hoped to build into a national political force began to fall apart.