WASHINGTON – Texan billionaire Ross Perot, who twice competed for the White House as an independent scoring one of the best figures won by a candidate not attached to Republicans and Democrats in a presidential election, has died on Tuesday at 89 years of age .
“Ross Perot, the revolutionary businessman and loving husband, father and grandfather, died early Tuesday in his home in Dallas surrounded by his devoted family,” the Perot family said in a statement picked up by the US media. .
Perot personified the American dream. Son of a merchant and a secretary, he started selling newspapers in his native Texarkana and ended up founding one of the pioneer companies of the then incipient IT industry becoming one of the richest men in the United States, with a fortune valued at 3.500 million dollars , according to ‘Forbes’.
He enlisted in the US Navy without having seen the sea and from there he made the leap to IBM, where he stood out as a seller, until in 1962, with a thousand dollars from his wife Margot, he founded Perot Electronic Data Systems, his first company, which subsequently passed to General Motors and HP.
He employed former soldiers and flew two planes – according to the request of the then Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger – to bring humanitarian aid to the US soldiers and their widows during the Vietnam War. It was his fight for the veterans that made him enter politics.
In 1992 he ran as an independent candidate against Republican George Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton with a campaign that cost him $ 63.5 million out of his own pocket. He achieved 19 percent of the vote, the best mark of an independent since Theodore Roosevelt in his 1912 attempt.
Four years later he tried again but this time he only got a meager eight percent that practically made his Reform Party disappear. Despite this, he managed to implement some debates on international trade and public deficit and debt.
Perot maintained the struggle for the causes to which he dedicated his life until his last years. Thus, he was pressing the Department of Veterans Affairs to study the so-called Gulf War syndrome and created a website to follow up on the public debt in detail.
Regardless of his political and business career, he is known for hiring a private security team to rescue two workers from his computer company who had been imprisoned in Iran with the outbreak of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The feat was embodied in a book and a movie.