Lyndon LaRouche Jr., the political extremist who ran for president in every election from 1976 to 2004, including a campaign waged from federal prison, has died. He was 96, the AP reports. LaRouche's political action committee confirmed Wednesday on its website that LaRouche died a day earlier. The cult-like figure, who espoused a wide range of conspiracy theories and advocated for an overhaul of the world's economic and financial systems, ran first as a US Labor Party candidate and later, after an apparent shift to the right, as a Democratic or independent candidate. In 1986, LaRouche described himself as being in the tradition of the American Whig party, a forerunner of the Republican Party in the first half of the 19th century. In 1990, he ran unsuccessfully to represent Virginia in Congress.
His views evolved throughout his life, but a central tenet of his apocalyptic platform warned of an inevitable global downward slide into crisis. LaRouche grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s was a member of the Socialist Workers Party, taking the name "Lyn Marcus." He ran his 1992 campaign from a prison cell after a 1988 conviction for mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the IRS by defaulting on more than $30 million in loans from campaign supporters. His conspiracy theories included a claim that the International Monetary Fund was "engaged in mass murder" by spreading AIDS through its economic policies. Based outside Washington in Leesburg, Va., LaRouche's organization continued to operate during the years he was in prison. His PAC described him as a "philosopher, scientist, poet, [and] statesman."
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