Name at birth: Henry Ross Perot
Ross Perot was a salesman for IBM when he founded Electronic Data Systems in 1962. Perot managed to turn EDS into a multi-billion dollar corporation, becoming one of America's richest men. He maintained a friendship with the U.S. Department of Defense, and from 1969 to 1972 worked to get American POWs out of Southeast Asia. In 1979, Ross Perot participated in a private mission to Iran to rescue two hostages who were employees of EDS. Perot was a surprise candidate in the U.S. presidential elections of 1992, running as an independent (under the banner of the newly-created group United We Stand America) against Republican president George Bush and Democratic candidate, Bill Clinton. Pundits made fun of Perot's short stature and big ears, but he struck a nerve with a folksy, straight-talking image that reminded some people of Harry Truman. Perot earned 19% of the popular vote, but won no electoral votes and earned the enmity of those who blame him for a Clinton win (he drew conservative votes away from George Bush, the argument goes). Ross Perot ran again in 1996 with less success, this time under the banner of the Reform Party.