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Ross Perot

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Ross Perot

Ross Perot
Born Henry Ross Perot
(1930-06-27) June 27, 1930
Texarkana, Texas
Education Texarkana Junior College
United States Naval Academy
Occupation Businessman
Net worth US$3.5 billion (2012)[1]
Political party
Spouse(s) Margot Birmingham
Children H. Ross, Jr.
Military career
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1953–1957

Henry Ross Perot (; born June 27, 1930) is an American businessman best known for being an independent presidential candidate in 1992 and 1996. Perot founded Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in 1962, sold the company to General Motors in 1984, and founded Perot Systems in 1988. Perot Systems was bought by Dell for $3.9 billion in 2009.[2]

With an estimated net worth of about US$3.5 billion in 2012, he is ranked by Forbes as the 134th-richest person in the United States.[1]


  • Early life 1
  • Business 2
  • Early political activities 3
  • 1992 presidential candidacy 4
  • Reform Party and 1996 presidential run 5
  • Later activities 6
  • Family 7
  • Honors 8
  • Electoral history 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12

Early life

Perot was born in Texarkana, Texas, to Lula May Perot (née Ray) and Gabriel Ross Perot,[3] a commodity broker specializing in cotton contracts. His patrilineal line traces back to a French-Canadian immigrant to Louisiana, in the 1740s.[4][5] He attended a private school called Patty Hill. He graduated from Texas High School in Texarkana in 1947.[6] One of Perot's boyhood friends was Hayes McClerkin, later Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives and a prominent Texarkana, Arkansas, lawyer.[7]

Perot joined the Boy Scouts of America and made Eagle Scout in 1942, after thirteen months in the program. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.[8][9]

From 1947 to 1949, he attended Texarkana Junior College, then entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1949 and helped establish its honor system.[8][10] Perot said his appointment notice to the academy—sent by telegram—was sent by W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel, Texas' 34th governor and former senator.[11]

Perot married Margot Birmingham of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in 1956.


After he left the Navy in 1957, Perot became a salesman for International Business Machines. He quickly became a top employee (one year, he fulfilled his annual sales quota in a mere two weeks)[12] and tried to pitch his ideas to supervisors who largely ignored him. He left IBM in 1962 to found Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in Dallas, Texas, and courted large corporations for his data processing services. Perot was refused seventy-seven times before he was given his first contract. EDS received lucrative contracts from the U.S. government in the 1960s, computerizing Medicare records. EDS went public in 1968 and the stock price rose from $16 a share to $160 within days. Fortune called Perot the "fastest, richest Texan" in a 1968 cover story. In 1984 General Motors bought controlling interest in EDS for $2.4 billion.

In 1974 Perot gained some press attention for being "the biggest individual loser ever on the New York Stock Exchange" when his EDS shares dropped $450 million in value in a single day in April 1970.[13]

Just prior to the 1979 U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel Arthur D. "Bull" Simons. When the team was unable to find a way to extract their two prisoners, they decided to wait for a mob of pro-Ayatollah revolutionaries to storm the jail and free all 10,000 inmates, many of whom were political prisoners. The two prisoners then connected with the rescue team, and the team spirited them out of Iran via a risky border crossing into Turkey. The exploit was recounted in a book, On Wings of Eagles by Ken Follett, which became a best-seller. In the 1986 miniseries, Perot was portrayed by Richard Crenna.

In 1984 Perot bought a very early copy of the Magna Carta, one of only a few to leave the United Kingdom. It was lent to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., where it was displayed alongside the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. In 2007, it was sold by the Perot Foundation, in order to provide "for medical research, for improving public education and for assisting wounded soldiers and their families."[14] The document sold for US$21.3 million on December 18, 2007, to David Rubenstein, managing director of the Carlyle Group and kept on display at the National Archives.[15]

As Steve Jobs lost the original power struggle at Apple and left to found NeXT, his angel investor was Perot who invested over 20 million dollars. Perot believed in Jobs and did not want to miss out, as he had with his chance to invest in Bill Gates' fledgling Microsoft.[16]

In 1988 he founded Perot Systems Corporation, Inc. in Plano, Texas. His son, Ross Perot, Jr., eventually succeeded him as CEO. In September 2009, Perot Systems was acquired by Dell for $3.9 billion.[17]

Early political activities

Perot became heavily involved in the

Party political offices
Preceded by
New title
Reform Party Presidential candidate
1996 (3rd)
Succeeded by
Pat Buchanan
  • , H. Ross PerotUnited We Stand at the Wayback Machine (archived December 9, 2000); text of the book published by Perot in 1992 to mark the launch of his Presidential campaign, complete with charts. The text is hosted by the site of the organization he created that year United We Stand America, as saved by The Internet Archive.
  • , January 16, 1994.Perot and His People: Disrupting the Balance of Political Power interview with Carolyn Barta on Booknotes
  • "Ross Perot, Presidential Contender" from C-SPAN's The Contenders

External links

  • Thomas M. Defrank, et al. Quest for the Presidency, 1992. Texas A&M University Press. 1994.
  • Mason, Todd (1990). Perot. Business One Irwin. ISBN 1-55623-236-5 An unauthorized biography by a longtime Perot watcher.
  • Doron P. Levin, Irreconcilable Differences: Ross Perot Versus General Motors (New York: Plume, 1990)
  • Thomas Moore, The GM System is Like a Blanket of Fog, Fortune, February 15, 1988
  • Posner, Gerald Citizen Perot: His Life and Times Random House. New York 1996
  • Clinton, Bill (2005). My Life. Vintage. ISBN 1-4000-3003-X.
  • Forbes 400
  • Rapoport, Ronald and Walter Stone. Three's a Crowd: The Dynamic of Third Parties, Ross Perot, and Republican Resurgence Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.

Further reading

  1. ^ a b "Henry Ross Perot". Forbes. March 2014. Retrieved March 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ "BOWIE COUNTY, TEXAS – BIRTHS 1930". Retrieved 2010-06-13. 
  3. ^ "The Ancestors of Ross Perot". Retrieved 2010-06-13. 
  4. ^ Posner, Gerald (1996). Citizen Perot. New York City: Random House. p. 8. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Texarkana Independent School District Names H. Ross Perot as 2009 Distinguished Alumni". Texarkana Independent School District. 2009-09-17. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  7. ^ Furlong, Tom (1992-06-10). "Perot as Hometown Hero: Just Don't Get in His Way". Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c Townley, Alvin (2006-12-26). Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 89–100, 108, 187, 194, 249, 260, 265.  
  9. ^ Ray, Mark (2007). "What It Means to Be an Eagle Scout". Scouting Magazine. Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  10. ^ The Associated Press. "Ross Perot Gives $1 Million to Texarkana College". Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  11. ^ Martin, Marie (March 25, 2012."Native Son". Texarkana Gazette. 2012-03-25. Retrieved 2012-03-25. 
  12. ^ Sam Wyly, 1000 Dollars & an Idea, Publisher: Newmarket, ISBN 1-55704-803-7
  13. ^ Henry Moscow, "An Astonishment of New York Superlatives: Biggest, Smallest, Longest, Shortest, Oldest, First, Last, Most, Etc." New York Magazine vol. 7, no. 1 (31 December 1973/7 January 1974) p. 53.
  14. ^ Magna Carta Is Going on the Auction Block September 25, 2007
  15. ^ Magna Carta Copy Sold December 19, 2007
  16. ^ Isaacson, Walter (2011). Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster.  
  17. ^ Dell Pays 68% Premium for Perot's Health Technology,September 22, 2009
  18. ^ a b c Patrick E. Tyler (1992-06-20). "Perot and Senators Seem Headed for a Fight on P.O.W.'s-M.I.A.'s".  
  19. ^ a b c George J. Church (1992-06-29). "The Other Side of Perot".  
  20. ^ Patrick E. Tyler (1992-06-05). "Perot to Testify in Senate on Americans Missing in Southeast Asia".  
  21. ^ Frank H. Wu (2002). Yellow: Race In America Beyond Black and White.  
  22. ^ "The 1992 Run For The Presidency". Reform Party. 
  23. ^ QUINDLEN, Anna (June 3, 1992). "Public & Private; Waiting for Perot". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  24. ^ "The Pew Research Center for People & the Press: Year of the Outsider". 1992-06-16. Retrieved Oct 5, 2010. 
  25. ^ magazine cover: H. Ross Perot"Time". 1992-05-25. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  26. ^ Samuel James Eldersveld, Hanes Walton. Political Parties in American Society. p. 69.
  27. ^ a b "Perot advisers reportedly at odds". Washington Post (Milwaukee, Wisconsin). July 14, 1992. p. 2A. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  28. ^ "Perot asks volunteers to sign loyalty oaths".  
  29. ^ Lewis, Anthony (October 2, 1992). "Abroad at Home; Why Perot?". The New York Times. p. 31. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  30. ^ Holmes, Steven A. (July 16, 1992). "Rollins Quits Perot's Campaign; Asserts His Advice Was Ignored". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  31. ^ THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: The Overview; PEROT SAYS HE QUIT IN JULY TO THWART G.O.P. 'DIRTY TRICKS', Richard L. Berke, New York Times, October 26, 1992
  32. ^ THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: Ross Perot; Perot Says He May Rejoin Race To Publicize His Economic Plan, Richard L. Berke, New York Times, September 19, 1992
  33. ^ Clymer, Adam (1992-08-25). "THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: Perot Gave $12 Million to Aborted Campaign". New York Times. 
  34. ^ Kolbert, Elizabeth (1992-10-27). "THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: The Media; Perot's 30-Minute TV Ads Defy the Experts, Again". New York Times. p. A.19. 
  35. ^ THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: On the Trail; POLL GIVES PEROT A CLEAR LEAD. New York Times. New York, N.Y.: Jun 11, 1992.
  36. ^ Sumner, Mark (2009-04-19). "All This Has Happened Before". Daily Kos. Retrieved 2010-06-13. 
  37. ^ Perot, Ross, James W. Robinson. Ross Perot speaks out: issue by issue, what he says about our nation : its problems and its promise. p 55. Prima Pub., 1992. ISBN 978-1-55958-274-2.
  38. ^
  39. ^ Politics: Who Cares by Peirce Lewis, Casey McCracken, and Roger Hunt (American Demographics, October 1994, vol. 16, no. 10) p. 23.
  40. ^ Holmes, Steven A. (November 5, 1992). "THE 1992 ELECTIONS: DISAPPOINTMENT -- NEWS ANALYSIS An Eccentric but No Joke; Perot's Strong Showing Raises Questions On What Might Have Been, and Might Be". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  41. ^ Reaves, Jessica; Frank Pelligrini (2000-10-03). "Bush plays off expectations; Gore learns from mistakes".  
  42. ^ Tharoor, Ishaan (2010-12-15). "Al Gore and Ross Perot Debate NAFTA". Time. 
  43. ^ "Board of Directors". Open Debates. Retrieved November 13, 2012. 
  44. ^ Richards, Paul J. "Do the debates unfairly shut out third parties?". CBS news. 
  45. ^ at the Wayback Machine (archived August 16, 2000)
  46. ^ "Point of Contact: H. Ross Perot". Dallas Morning News. 2005-04-23. Archived from the original on 2007-05-15. 
  47. ^ January 16, 2008 (2008-01-16). "Ross Perot Slams McCain". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-06-13. 
  48. ^ Jason Carroll (June 19, 2008). "Ross Perot wants more focus on national debt".  
  49. ^ Dinan, Stephen. "Ross Perot endorses Mitt Romney". The Washington Times. Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  50. ^
  51. ^ Martin, Marie (September 19, 2009)."Perot receives TISD Distinguished Alumni Award". Texarkana Gazette. 2009-09-19. Retrieved 2010-06-09. 
  52. ^ "List of Thayer Award Recipients". West Point AOG. 2009-10-10. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  53. ^ Martin, Marie (June 9, 2010)."Native Son gets birthday surprise". Texarkana Gazette. 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2010-06-09. 
  54. ^ "CGSC Foundation presents Ross Perot with 2010 Distinguished Leadership Award". The Command and General Staff College Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  55. ^ Martin, Marie (September 30, 2010)."Perot to be given distinguished award". Texarkana Gazette. 2010-09-30. Retrieved 2010-09-30. 
  56. ^ Martin, Marie (July 7, 2011)."Ross Perot will be presented with award". Texarkana Gazette. 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2012-09-16. 
  57. ^


  • Bill Clinton/Al Gore (D) (Inc.) – 47,400,125 (49.2%) and 379 electoral votes (31 states and D.C. carried)
  • Bob Dole/Jack Kemp (R) – 39,198,755 (40.7%) and 159 electoral votes (19 states carried)
  • Ross Perot/Pat Choate (Ref.) – 8,085,402 (8.4%) and 0 electoral votes

United States presidential election, 1996

  • Bill Clinton/Al Gore (D) – 44,909,806 (43.0%) and 370 electoral votes (32 states and D.C. carried)
  • Dan Quayle (R) (Inc.) – 39,104,550 (37.4%) and 168 electoral votes (18 states carried)
  • Ross Perot/James Stockdale (I) – 19,743,821 (18.9%) and 0 electoral votes
  • Andre Marrou/Nancy Lord (L) – 290,087 (0.3%) and 0 electoral votes

United States presidential election, 1992

Electoral history


Perot and his wife Margot (née Birmingham) have five children (Ross Jr., Nancy, Suzanne, Carolyn, and Katherine). As of 2012, the Perots have 16 grandchildren.


In 2012, Perot endorsed Mitt Romney for President.[49]

In January 2008, Perot publicly came out against Republican candidate John McCain and endorsed Mitt Romney for President. He also announced that he would soon be launching a new website with updated economic graphs and charts.[47] In June 2008, the blog launched, focusing on entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security), the U.S. national debt and related issues.[48]

The one exception to this came in 2005, when he was asked to testify before the Texas Legislature in support of proposals to extend technology to students, including making laptops available to them; additionally, changing the process of buying textbooks, by making electronic books (ebooks) available and by allowing schools to buy books at the local level instead of going through the state. In an April 2005 interview, Perot expressed concern about the state of progress on issues that he had raised in his presidential runs.[46]

Since then, Perot has been largely silent on political issues, refusing to answer most questions from the press. When interviewed, he usually remains on the subject of his business career and refuses to answer specific questions on politics, candidates, or his past activities.

. 2004 presidential election their ballot lines in the Ralph Nader; others gave America First Party Some state parties affiliated with the new (Buchananite) [45] In the

Later in the 1990s, Perot's detractors accused him of not allowing the Reform Party to develop into a genuine national political party, but rather using it as a vehicle to promote himself. They cited as evidence the control of party offices by operatives from his presidential campaigns. Perot did not give an endorsement during Jesse Ventura's run for governor of Minnesota in the 1998 election, and this became suspicious to detractors when he made fun of Ventura at a conference after Ventura had a falling out with the press. The party leadership grew in tighter opposition to groups supporting Ventura and Jack Gargan. Evidence of this was demonstrated when Gargan was officially removed as Reform Party Chairman by the Reform Party National Committee.

Perot attending the 2009 EagleBank Bowl in Washington, D.C.

Later activities

In 1995, he founded the Reform Party and won their nomination for the 1996 election. His running mate was Pat Choate. Because of the ballot access laws, he had to run as an Independent on many state ballots. Perot received eight percent of the popular vote in 1996, much less than in the 1992 race but still an unusually successful third-party showing by U.S. standards. He spent much less of his own money in this race than he had four years before, and also allowed other people to contribute to his campaign, unlike his prior race. One common explanation for the decline was Perot's exclusion from the presidential debates, based on the preferences of the Democratic and Republican party candidates. Jamin B. Raskin of Open Debates filed a lawsuit on Perot's behalf on this assumption.[43][44]

Perot tried to keep his movement alive through the mid-1990s, continuing to speak about the increasing national debt. He was a prominent campaigner against the North American Free Trade Agreement, and even debated with Al Gore on the issue on Larry King Live. Perot's behavior during the debate was a source of mirth thereafter, including his repeated pleas to "let me finish" in his southern drawl. The debate was seen by many as effectively ending Perot’s political career.[41] Support for NAFTA went from 34% to 57%.[42]

Reform Party and 1996 presidential run

Based on his performance in the popular vote in 1992, Perot was entitled to receive federal election funding for 1996. Perot remained in the public eye after the election and championed opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), urging voters to listen for the "giant sucking sound" of American jobs heading south to Mexico should NAFTA be ratified.

A detailed analysis of voting demographics revealed that Perot's support drew heavily from across the political spectrum, with 20% of his votes coming from self-described liberals, 27% from self-described conservatives, and 53% coming from self-described moderates. Economically, however, the majority of Perot voters (57%) were middle class, earning between $15,000 and $49,000 annually, with the bulk of the remainder drawing from the upper middle class (29% earning more than $50,000 annually).[39] Exit polls also showed that Ross Perot drew 38% of his vote from Bush, and 38% of his vote from Clinton, while the rest of his voters would have stayed home had he not been on the ballot.[40]

In the John Hospers won one in 1972). Compared with Thurmond and Wallace, who polled very strongly in a small number of states, Perot's vote was more evenly spread across the country. Perot managed to finish second in two states: In Maine, Perot received 30.44% of the vote to Bush's 30.39% (Clinton won Maine with 38.77%); in Utah, Perot received 27.34% of the vote to Clinton's 24.65% (Bush won Utah with 43.36%). Although Perot won no state, he received the most votes in some counties, including Trinity County, California.

This city has become a town filled with sound bites, shell games, handlers, media stuntmen who posture, create images, talk, shoot off Roman candles, but don't ever accomplish anything. We need deeds, not words, in this city.[37]
Perot denounced Congress for its inaction in his speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on March 18, 1992. Perot said:

At one point in June, Perot led the polls with 39% (versus 31% for Bush and 25% for Clinton). Just prior to the debates, Perot received 7–9% support in nationwide polls.[35] It is likely that the debates played a significant role in his ultimate receipt of 19% of the popular vote. Although his answers during the debates were often general, many Democrats and Republicans conceded that Perot won at least the first debate. In the debate he remarked: "Keep in mind our Constitution predates the Industrial Revolution. Our founders did not know about electricity, the train, telephones, radio, television, automobiles, airplanes, rockets, nuclear weapons, satellites, or space exploration. There's a lot they didn't know about. It would be interesting to see what kind of document they'd draft today. Just keeping it frozen in time won't hack it."[36]

[8] Perot's running mate was retired

In September, he qualified for all fifty state ballots. On October 1, he announced his intention to reenter the presidential race. He said that Republican operatives had wanted to reveal compromising photographs of his daughter, which would disrupt her wedding, and he wanted to spare her from embarrassment. He campaigned in 16 states and spent an estimated $12.3 million of his own money.[33] Perot employed the innovative strategy of purchasing half-hour blocks of time on major networks for infomercial-type campaign advertisements; this advertising garnered more viewership than many sitcoms, with one Friday night program in October attracting 10.5 million viewers.[34]

In June, Perot led in the Gallop poll with a 39 percent rating.[26] By mid-July, the Washington Post reported that Perot's campaign managers were becoming increasingly disillusioned by his unwillingness to follow their advice[27] to be more specific on issues, and his need to be in full control of operations[27] with such tactics as forcing volunteers to sign loyalty oaths.[28] Perot's poll numbers began to slip to 25%, and his advisers warned that if he continued to ignore them, he would fall into single digits. Co-manager Hamilton Jordan threatened to quit, and on July 15, Ed Rollins resigned after Perot fired advertisement specialist Hal Riney, who worked with Rollins on the Reagan campaign. Rollins would later claim that a member of the campaign accused him of being a Bush plant with ties to the CIA.[29] Amidst the chaos, Perot's support fell to 20%.[30] The next day, Perot announced on Larry King Live that he would not seek the presidency. He explained that he did not want the House of Representatives to decide the election if the result caused the electoral college to be split. Perot eventually stated the reason was that he received threats that digitally altered photographs would be released by the Bush campaign to sabotage his daughter's wedding.[31] Regardless of the reasons for withdrawing, his reputation was badly damaged. Many of his supporters felt betrayed and public opinion polls would subsequently show a large negative view of Perot that was absent prior to his decision to end the campaign.[32]

Several months before the Democratic and Republican conventions, Perot filled the vacuum of election news, as his supporters began petition drives to get him on the ballot in all fifty states. This sense of momentum was reinforced when Perot employed two savvy campaign managers in Democrat United We Stand America. Perot was late in making formal policy proposals, but most of what he did call for were intended to reduce the deficit. He wanted a gasoline tax increase and some cutbacks of Social Security.

Perot's candidacy received increasing media attention when the competitive phase of the primary season ended for the two major parties. With the insurgent candidacies of Republican Pat Buchanan and Democrat Jerry Brown winding down, Perot was the natural beneficiary of populist resentment toward establishment politicians. On May 25, 1992, he was featured on the cover of Time with the title "Waiting for Perot", an allusion to Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot.[25]

On February 20, 1992, he appeared on CNN's Larry King Live and announced his intention to run as an independent if his supporters could get his name on the ballot in all fifty states. With such declared policies as balancing the federal budget, opposition to gun control, ending the outsourcing of jobs and enacting electronic direct democracy via "electronic town halls", he became a potential candidate and soon polled roughly even with the two major party candidates.[24]

1992 presidential candidacy

Perot did not support Persian Gulf War. He unsuccessfully urged Senators to vote against the war resolution, and began to consider his own presidential run.[22][23]

Maya Lin, architect of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial received harassment from Perot after her race was revealed; he was known to have called her an "egg roll" after it was revealed that she was Asian.[21]

In Florida in 1990, retired financial planner Jack Gargan funded a series of "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" (a reference to a famous quotation from the 1976 political and mass media satire movie, Network) newspaper advertisements denouncing the U.S. Congress for voting for legislative pay raises at a time when average wages nationwide were not increasing. Gargan later founded "Throw the Hypocritical Rascals Out" (THRO), which Ross Perot supported.

Perot stands next to a portrait of George Washington at his office in 1986.

[19][18].Richard Armitage official U.S. Department of Defense Perot also launched private investigations of, and attacks upon, [20] In 1990, Perot reached agreement with Vietnam's Foreign Ministry to become its business agent in the event that diplomatic relations were normalized.[19][18]

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