The Slatest

Billionaire and Two-Time Presidential Candidate Ross Perot Dies

Ross Perot testifies at a California Senate committee.
Ross Perot at a California Senate committee on in 2002 in Sacramento.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Ross Perot, the wealthy Texas philanthropist who twice ran for president as an independent candidate in the 1990s, died Tuesday at age 89.

Perot, a billionaire who made his fortune in the tech industry in the 1960s with his company Electronic Data Systems, won nearly 19 percent of the popular vote in the 1992 election. Some have blamed his popularity in that race for George H.W. Bush’s loss to Bill Clinton. Perot ran again in 1996, with less success.

“In business and in life, Ross was a man of integrity and action,” his family said in a statement. “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.”

As a candidate, Perot spent millions of his own wealth to buy 30-minute infomercials in which he pitched his own economic policies with charts and his catchphrase, “It’s just that simple.”

In 1979, he made headlines when he financed a private raid to free two of the company’s employees held in an Iranian prison just before the Iranian revolution. And in the 1980s, his fame grew when he claimed publicly that hundreds of American soldiers had been left behind as the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam. When Perot brought the issue to discussions with Vietnamese officials on his own, he angered the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations as they navigated their own negotiations with the country.

His family did not say how he died, but Perot had been diagnosed with leukemia in February.