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Two-time US presidential candidate Ross Perot dies aged 89

The Texas billionaire ran for President in 1992 and 1996.

Image: DPA/PA Images

TWO-TIME US presidential candidate Ross Perot has died aged 89. 

The Texas billionaire, who ran for the US presidency in 1992 and again in 1996, died early today at his home in Dallas surrounded by his family, family spokesman James Fuller said.

Perot, whose 19% of the vote in 1992 stands among the best showings by an independent candidate in the past century, made his fortune by building Electronic Data Systems,  which helped other companies manage their computer networks.

Perot first became known to Americans outside of business circles by claiming that the US government left behind hundreds of American soldiers who were missing or imprisoned at the end of the Vietnam War.

He raised the issue at home and discussed it privately with Vietnamese officials in the 1980s, angering the Reagan administration, which was formally negotiating with Vietnam’s government.

Perot’s wealth and fame propelled his 1992 campaign against President George HW Bush and Democratic challenger Bill Clinton.

Some Republicans blamed Perot for Bush’s loss to Clinton as Perot garnered the largest percentage of votes for a third-party candidate since former President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 bid.

During the campaign, Perot spent $63.5 million (€56 million) of his own money and bought up 30-minute television spots. 

Perot’s second campaign four years later was far less successful.

He was shut out of presidential debates when organisers said he lacked sufficient support. He received just 8% of the vote, and the Reform Party that he founded and hoped to build into a national political force began to fall apart.

However, Perot’s ideas on trade and deficit reduction remained part of the political landscape.

He continued to speak out about federal spending for many years. In 2008, he launched a website to highlight the nation’s debt with a ticker that tracked the rising total, a blog and a chart presentation.

In September 2011, Forbes magazine estimated Perot’s wealth at $3.5 billion (€3.1 billion) and ranked him No. 91 on its list of richest Americans.

Perot is survived by his wife, Margot Birmingham, and their five children.

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