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American businessman Ross Perot ran for the U.S. presidency as an independent candidate twice, in 1992 and 1996. He is one of the most successful third-party candidates in American history.
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Two years later, Perot sold his GM stock back to the company at their request. He soon started a new business enterprise called Perot Systems.
Always politically outspoken, Perot decided to step off the sidelines and get into the action in the spring of 1992. He was disappointed in President George Bush and didn't like any of the potential Democratic candidates. Positioning himself as a political outsider, Perot wrote about his ideas for rebuilding a troubled America in United We Stand: How We Can Take Back Our Country. He also broadcasted his political views in infomercials, using his substantial wealth to buy air time across the country. Perot had a down-home style and a habit for speaking in snappy sound-bites, which appealed to many members of the voting public. As journalist Paul Burka wrote in Texas Monthly, "Perot is the candidate of the disaffected, the disenchanted, the fed up: the people whose contempt for politics has passed beyond cynicism to despair."
His campaign seemed to gather momentum as the political race heated up. Perot promoted himself as a reformer, building on his success with the Texas Public Education system in the 1980s. But, in July, he dropped out of the race, later claiming that the Republican Party had plans to embarrass his daughter Carolyn before her wedding. According to The New York Times, Perot believed that the Bush campaign was going to start a rumor about his daughter's sexuality.
Perot returned to the race in October with only weeks left before the election. Despite this setback, he managed to garner nearly 19 percent of the popular vote. Perot was the first independent candidate since Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 to receive this large of a share of the popular vote. Still the lion's share of voters chose Democrat Bill Clinton. Perot faced off against Clinton again in 1996, but his campaign failed to win over much public support.
Perot retired from the day-to-day operations of Perot Systems in 2000, but he stayed on as the company's chairman. His son, Ross Jr., took the reins of the business. The business was later sold to Dell in 2009.
In his retirement, Perot has written a number of books. He shared some of business philosophies in 2002's Ross Perot: My Life & The Principles for Success. In 2008, Perot contributed a forward to Governor Rick Perry's On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For. He delved into his life for his 2013 autobiography Ross Perot: My Life.
Perot hasn't stayed out of politics completely, however. In 2012, he threw his support behind Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the presidential race. "The fact is the United States is on an unsustainable course," Perot wrote in an opinion piece for the Des Moines Register. "At stake is nothing less than our position in the world, our standard of living at home and our constitutional freedoms."
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