Ross Perot, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist from Texas who twice ran for president as an independent in the 1990s passed away on Tuesday from leukemia at the age of 89-years-old. He died at home with his family by his side.
Fox News host Shepard Smith took a few moments on his program Tuesday to provide a fond tribute and warm remarks on the well-known figure.
Rags to riches
“The self-made billionaire from Texas and two-time presidential candidate Ross Perot has died,” Smith said. “Ross Perot grew up poor in the depression era but later became one of the richest men in all the nation.”
“As a boy, he delivered newspapers from the back of a pony but earned his billions in technology,” he continued. “After he attended the U.S. Naval Academy, Ross Perot became a salesman for IBM.”
Smith noted that Perot eventually ventured out on his own and created a company known as Electronic Data Systems (EDS) that helped other enterprises manage their computer networks in the early days of the technology age.
Perot gained attention outside of the business world for his sharp criticism of the Vietnam War and eventually felt compelled to run for the presidency in 1992. He believed he was uniqued qualified to address serious economic concerns that the federal government had allowed to spiral out of control.
“And what a splash he made. In that campaign he spent more than $60 million of his own money,” Smith said, noting that Perot even purchased infomercials to use as half-hour campaign ads and speeches in which he famously used an assortment of graphs to illustrate what was wrong with the nation and how he would fix it.
Perot was known for his down-to-earth manner of speaking and memorable catchphrases, such as “It’s just that simple” or “Can I finish?”
“He upended that race in 1992. He didn’t get any Electoral votes, but his supporters were loud and loyal,” Smith said. “He took home 19% of the popular vote, the most of any third-party candidate since (former President) Teddy Roosevelt 80 years earlier.”
Perot was blamed by some Republicans for siphoning away votes from Republican President George H.W. Bush, which allowed President Bill Clinton to win,” but when Perot in 1996 to challenge Clinton once more, he didn’t fare quite as well.
In the years since his failed presidential bids, Perot and his family foundation donated millions of dollars to a variety of worthy causes, and according to Perot’s son, his driving motivation every day was to figure out how he could be of help to others.
Perot’s family said in a statement: “In business and in life, Ross was a man of integrity and action.” Smith added that the family described Perot as a “true American patriot and a man of rare vision, principle, and deep compassion.”