Ross Perot dead at 89

(NBC) – H. Ross Perot, the self-made billionaire from Texas who made two bids for the White House, has died at the age of 89.

Henry Ross Perot founded Electronic Data Systems in 1962 with a $1,000 check, later selling the company to General Motors and becoming an early tech billionaire.

In 1992, he catapulted into national politics. The most successful third-party candidate since Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 to this day, Bush and Clinton supporters debate who Perot hurt more in 1992.

At a time when public trust in government was lower than during Watergate, Perot appealed to a group of disenchanted voters on one issue: the deficit, selling his message with folksy charisma: “As I’ve said before, it’s time to take out the trash and clean out the barn.”

In TV appearances and infomercials, Perot could be combative. But his message stuck. He won nearly 20 million votes and became a pop culture phenomenon.

Although he finished third in ’92 and in 1996, Perot’s ability to appeal to political outsiders, his personal wealth and populist campaigns particularly on the issue of trade was a forerunner to Donald Trump.

A graduate of the Naval Academy, Perot was honored with the Medal for Distinguished Public Service for his work on behalf of POWs.

His life defined by his favorite motto, inspired by Winston Churchill: “Never give in; never give in; never, never, never!”

And his love for the lone star state: “I was Texas born, Texas bred, Texarkana raised and when I die I’ll be Texas, dead.”

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