Former presidential candidate and self-made billionaire Ross Perot has died at 89, after a five-month battle with leukemia. Perot ran for president in 1992 as an independent candidate and 1996 he ran under a third party campaign which established what is known today as the Reform Party. Perot based his presidential campaign on fiscal responsibility, protectionism and the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
According to CNBC, Allan Lichtman, professor of history at American University stated,” Perot was ‘“certainly the most influential political force in the late 20th century from outside the regular party system”, Litchman said.
According to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush responded to Perot death and emphasized that “America had lost a true patriot.” Bush continued to state that Perot, “gave selflessly of his time and resources to help others in our community, across our country, and around the world,” Bush said. Both Bush and his wife Laura sent condolences to the Perot family.
During Perot’s 1992 presidential campaign his slogan was “Ross for Boss” and he won 19 percent of the popular vote. Perot lost the 1992 election to Bill Clinton. In 1996, when Perot ran again for president he received more than 8 percent of the popular vote.
Perot was born in Texarkana, Texas on June 27, 1930, and began working at seven years old doing odd jobs in his community. As a teen, he joined the Boy Scouts of America and made Eagle Scout and received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. In 1953 Perot joined the US Navy and attended the US Naval Academy and served in the navy between from 1953 to 1957.
By 1962, the American businessman founded the Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and later started Perot Systems. Then in 1968, when EDS stock went public he earned his first $350 million overnight. In 1984, he sold controlling interest of EDS to General Motors Corp receiving $2.5 billion.
Perot was also awarded the Medal for Distinguished Public Service by the Department of Defense for his efforts on trying to help prisoners of war in 1974. Then in 1979, Ross Perot during the Iranian Islamic revolution financed a rescue mission called “Operation Hotfoot” to rescue two of his employees. Paul Chiapparone and Bill Gaylord who had worked for EDS. Chiapparone and Gaylord had been arrested on suspicion of bribery in Tehran and were being held on $13 million bails each. Perot decided to extract his employees.
Operation Hotfoot was an elaborate mission and was headed by US Army Special Forces Col. Arthur Simons and the rescue was a success. A year prior 52 other Americans were held hostage when the American embassy was invaded during Iran’s violent revolution and other rescued attempts failed by the US government. The hostages were held for 444 days in which eight U.S. troops were killed. The story of Perot’s rescue mission later became a book titled, “On Wings of Eagles,” written by British author Ken Follett.
Perot married Margot Birmingham in 1956. The couple has five children and has 16 grandchildren. It is estimated that at the time of his death Ross Perot was worth $4.1 billion. On the list of the richest Americans, he is ranked 91.
According to ABC News, James Fuller spokesperson for the Perot family has asked in honor of Perot to please make donations to Circle Ten Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, North Texas Food Bank, Salvation Army DFW, Teach for America: Dallas/ Fort Worth, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Visiting Nurses Association of Dallas