US presidential candidate Ross Perot dies

Tuesday - 09/07/2019 13:03
In this June 1, 1996, file photo, former presidential candidate Ross Perot addresses the first California statewide convention of the Reform Party, a new political party he founded, at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/
In this June 1, 1996, file photo, former presidential candidate Ross Perot addresses the first California statewide convention of the Reform Party, a new political party he founded, at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/
Texas billionaire Ross Perot, who shook up US presidential politics in the 1990s with his self-deprecating humour and down-home economic remedies, has died.

H. Ross Perot, the feisty Texas technology billionaire who rattled US politics with two independent presidential campaigns in the 1990s that struck a chord with disgruntled voters, has died aged 89.

"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," the Perot family said in a statement.

Perot's fortune was estimated at $US4.1 billion ($A5.9 billion) by Forbes magazine in April 2019.

Perot was a natural salesman who made a fortune in computer services but he was an unlikely and unconventional politician.

He was short with buzz-top haircut, spoke with a folksy Texas drawl and had protruding ears that even he joked about. He was blunt and assertive and his success in business made him accustomed to getting his way.

Perot was so gung-ho that when two of his employees were jailed in Iran in 1978, he organised a team of commandos from his employees and hired a former Green Beret colonel to break them out.

Perot leaped into the 1992 presidential race as an independent and quickly found a lode of Americans turned off by the Republican and Democratic parties. His overarching issue was curbing the government's deficit spending - an issue he referred to as the "crazy aunt in the basement" who no one wanted to talk about.

His outsider campaign, much of it financed by his own money, featured 30-minute television "infomercials". With his charts, self-deprecating humour and down-home economic remedies, Perot led a Gallup Poll five months before the election with 39 per cent, compared with 31 per cent for incumbent Republican George HW Bush and 25 per cent for Democrat Bill Clinton.

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