Ross Perot

I don’t have any experience in gridlock government.

Ross Perot's Rise From Humble Beginnings Ross Perot’s humble background and early career led to bold decisions later in life. Texas billionaire Ross Perot’s no-nonsense challenge to the two main U.S. political parties in 1992, dictated by his “volunteers,” impacted the race like few other third parties in history. Following stints in the Navy and at IBM, Perot, the son of a Texarkana cotton broker, founded his own data processing company Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in 1962, and by 1968 Fortune magazine had labeled him the "fastest, richest Texan.”

Perot first garnered national attention in 1979, when he engineered the daring rescue of two EDS employees who had been imprisoned by the Iranian government, an episode that inspired the 1983 novel On Wings of Eagles and a movie by the same name. On the February 1992 episode of CNN's Larry King Live, Perot told King he would run for president if his name were placed on the ballot in all 50 states. The reaction to the billionaire’s proclamation was immediate, and “Draft Perot" organizations operated by volunteers started opening across the nation.

Campaigning on a platform of reducing the national debt and protecting American jobs from foreign competition, Perot entered the race against incumbent Republican president George H.W. Bush and Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, soaring in the polls. In July, however, Perot unexpectedly announced that he was dropping out of the race because did not want the House of Representatives to decide the election, although he later claimed that he exited the race to protect his daughter’s wedding from allegedly being disrupted by Republican operatives.

Perot would later re-enter the race in October, running an unconventional campaign reliant on paid infomercials and earned media rather than stump speeches and stealing the show in the debates against Clinton and Bush with his folksy straight-talking approach to the issues. He would go onto earn 19 percent of the vote in November, and run again in 1996 under the banner of the Reform Party. With a net worth estimated at around $3.9 billion, the 86-year-old remains one of the wealthiest individuals in the U.S.

Timeline

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