Billionaire, philanthropist and presidential hopeful H. Ross Perot has passed away, according to the Associated Press. Perot was known for his two runs for president, and for building up a massive fortune after growing up in the Great Depression. He was 89 years old.
A family spokesman named James Fuller told reporters that Perot died early on Tuesday. So far there is no word on his cause of death, or other specifics surrounding his passing.
“Ross Perot, the ground-breaking businessman and loving husband, brother, father and grandfather, passed away early Tuesday at his home in Dallas, surrounded by his devoted family,” read the family statement, according to a report by Reuters.
The Texas native made his fortune in computers, long before they were as ubiquitous as they are today. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Perot became a salesman for IBM. With his knowledge of the industry, he then founded a computer services company called Electronic Data Systems Corp., which made him incredibly wealthy.
Perot sold a controlling stake in EDS Corp to General Motors in 1984, earning himself a staggering $2.5 billion. Four years later, he went on to found Perot Systems, bringing the best computer technology of the time to industries like health care, banking, manufacturing and government. Perot was also a key investor for NeXT, the company founded by Steve Jobs during his time away from Apple.
Perot was politically motivated and active throughout his career as well. During the Vietnam War, he took a particular interest in soldiers that were prisoners of war or missing in action, speaking out against military leaders for leaving servicemen behind, as far as he saw it.
Perot became more and more outspoken in the years following the war, particularly during President George H.W. Bush's time in the White House. He also opposed the Gulf War and the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Finally, in 1992, Perot announced his run for president. Perot briefly led the polls in a three-way race between himself, President Bush and Democratic nominee Bill Clinton. He was one of the most successful third party candidates of all time, running as an Independent and garnering support from moderate voters in either party.
In the end, Perot drew just under 19 percent of the vote in the 1992 election, and Republicans blamed him for the loss of incumbent President Bush. Perot kept his momentum going in 1996, when he ran in his own self-established Reform Party. This time around, he won just 8.4 percent of the vote.
Still, Perot left a meaningful impact on the state of American politics for years to come, and is still an important name in discussing third-party politics.
Perot is survived by five children, 16 grandchildren and his wife, Margot.
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