H. Ross Perot, the colorful, self-made Texas billionaire who rose from a childhood of Depression-era poverty and twice ran for president as a third-party candidate, has died at age 89. Perot, whose 19% of the vote in 1992 stands among the best showings by an independent candidate in the past century, died early Tuesday at his home in Dallas surrounded by his family, family spokesman James Fuller said, per the AP. Perot's wealth, fame, and confident prescription for the nation's economic ills propelled his 1992 campaign against President George HW Bush and Democratic challenger Bill Clinton. Some Republicans blamed him 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 of his own money and bought up 30-minute television spots. He used charts and graphs to make his points, summarizing them with a line that became a national catchphrase: "It's just that simple." As a boy in Texarkana, Texas, Perot delivered newspapers from the back of a pony. He earned his billions in a more modern way, however—by building Electronic Data Systems Corp., which helped other companies manage their computer networks. Yet the most famous event in his career didn't involve sales and earnings: He financed a private commando raid in 1979 to free two EDS employees who were being held in a prison in Iran. Perot first became known to Americans outside of business circles by claiming that the US government left behind hundreds of soldiers who were missing or imprisoned in Vietnam. (Read more Ross Perot stories.)