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Texas billionaire Ross Perot dies at 89

Ross Perot, the Reform Party candidate for president, during his address before the Christian Coalition's conference in Washington, Sept. 13, 1996. Perot, the wiry Texas gadfly who made a fortune in computer services, amazed the nation with bizarre paramilitary missions to Vietnam and Iran and ran for president in 1992 and 1996 with populist talk of restoring Norman Rockwell’s America, died on July 9, 2019. He was 89. (Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)
July 9, 2019 11:21 am Updated: July 9, 2019 11:21 am

H. Ross Perot, the diminutive Texas billionaire whose 1992 independent presidential campaign added the phrase “that giant sucking sound” to the American political vocabulary, died Tuesday, according to a family spokesman. He was 89.

Perot was an unlikely modern political figure, saddled with easily caricatured voice and ears and with no political campaign experience before he launched his third-party bid challenging the incumbency of President George H.W. Bush. Perot received 19% of the popular vote but ultimately had little impact on the electoral-college math of that election, which was won by Democrat Bill Clinton.

Still, Perot’s down-to-earth personality, combined with public perceptions that he was a straight-talking independent, made him a popular figure among those who distrusted political smoothness and disdained the perfectly calibrated quote. He formed the Reform Party in 1995 and mounted another presidential bid in 1996, but that one fell far short of the 1992 effort, effectively ending his run on the national political stage.