Ross Perot Sr., the self-made billionaire who twice ran for president, has died at the age of 89. The cause of death was leukemia, a family spokesman said Tuesday, July 9.
As a boy in Texarkana, Texas, Perot delivered newspapers from the back of a pony. He earned his billions in a more modern fashion by creating and building Electronic Data Systems Corp., which helped other companies manage their computer networks.
Beyond business circles, Perot was also known for his involvement in freeing two EDS employees imprisoned in Iran and hundreds of American soldiers in Vietnam.
Perot’s wealth, fame, and confident prescription for the nation’s economic ills propelled his 1992 campaign against President George H.W. Bush and Democratic challenger Bill Clinton. In June of that year, a Gallup poll showed Perot leading his major-party rivals, but he dropped out in July, then rejoined the race less than five weeks before the election.
Perot spent $63.5 million of his own money, much of it on 30-minute television spots during which he used charts and graphs to make his points, summarizing them with a line that became a national catchphrase: “It’s just that simple.”
Perot’s second campaign four years later was far less successful. However, Perot’s ideas on trade and deficit reduction remained part of the political landscape. He blamed both major parties for running up a huge federal budget deficit and allowing American jobs to be sent to other countries. The movement of U.S. jobs to Mexico, he said, created a “giant sucking sound.”
Paved the way for the victory of President Trump?
Perot’s populist campaigns in 1992 and 1996 are credited with providing a road map for the 2016 victory of Donald Trump.
Perot and President Trump both ran as a billionaire populist against the Republican establishment by focusing on the North American Free Trade Agreement and free trade in general, and they both used cable news for laying out their agenda, except for the final result.
“Perot not only showed Trump how to run as a populist for president but also how to use cable news to build a brand, frame a nationalist agenda around opposing free trade, and, yes, how to use Mexico as a political foil,” according to the Boston Globe.
“He was brilliant. I mean, he had the same ability as Trump to reach people. He’s one of the few, he likewise, like Trump, had established a genuine bond.” said radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
Son supports President Trump’s re-election
Ross Perot Jr. who reportedly had an incredibly close bond with his father, continues to share Perot Sr.’s political vision.
Early this year, he contributed the maximum amount allowed to President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.
Records from the Federal Election Commission showed that on March 19, he wrote two $2,800 checks to President Trump’s campaign—one for a potential 2020 primary election, and one for the 2020 general election.
Ross Perot’s oldest child is now 60 years old and the chairman of the Perot Group. He also leads a real estate development company called Hillwood founded in 1998.
Perot Jr. gained worldwide recognition in early 1980s for a historic flight around the world, becoming the first person ever to circle the globe in a helicopter.
Includes reporting from The Associate Press