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Ross Perot: The 60 Minutes interview

Ross Perot: The 60 Minutes interview
Ross Perot: The 60 Minutes interview 04:05

H. Ross Perot, the colorful billionaire Texas businessman who twice ran for president as a third-party candidate, died from leukemia on Tuesday. He was 89.

Perot's bids for president in 1992 and 1996 were as much about winning the White House as about trying to build a viable third party, and 60 Minutes took notice.

In 1992, correspondent Morley Safer profiled Perot, whom he called a "crusty self-made billionaire," after the candidate put up $100 million of his own money to run. At the time, Safer pointed out that Perot was the only candidate focused on the country's deficit.

"It's like a crazy aunt you keep down in the basement," Perot told Safer in the 1992 clip above. "All the neighbors know she's there, but nobody talks about her."

When Perot dropped out of the race a few months later, he claimed to Lesley Stahl that his independent presidential bid had been sabotaged by a Republican "dirty-tricks" campaign. He eventually re-entered the 1992 race and won almost 19 percent of the popular vote.

Perot was a conservative with quixotic ideology. He was pro-choice on abortion, and when it came to the military, he wanted to trim it and charge the Germans and Japanese for their defense. He wanted to put all tax increases to a national vote and to enact a law that would limit executive salaries in the private sector. In his opinion, no CEO was worth $30 million.

"I've said to these guys, if you want to make that kind of money, be a rockstar," Perot told Safer. "Go to baseball. Play basketball. But if you want to run a company, you cannot have that kind of gap between the people who do the work and the people who run the company."

Perot founded the Reform Party and ran as its candidate in 1996. That time, his third-party platform picked up 8 percent of the vote.

Perot felt that big government and big business had drained the spirit—and treasury—of the country. During both campaigns, Perot's platforms were "centered on campaign reform, protecting American workers from outsourcing, and cutting the national debt," according to his website.

As Safer reported in 1992, Perot's populist approach proved attractive: "What Americans love most of all is a maverick, an untamed cowpoke willing to ride in and clean up the town, especially one who's willing to blow $100 million to get hired for a job he says he doesn't really want."

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