Billionaire Texas businessman and two-time presidential third-party candidate Ross Perot endorsed Mitt Romney for president Tuesday, saying runaway domestic spending plus cuts to defense budgets convinced him to support the Republican candidate.
"The United States is on an unsustainable course. At stake is nothing less than our position in the world, our standard of living at home and our constitutional freedoms. That is why I am endorsing Mitt Romney for president," Perot wrote in an op-ed in the Des Moines Register.
He added Romney's experience in the private sector, much like Perot's own, and his willingness to "reach across the aisle and make common cause with those with whom he disagrees" also make him the best candidate.
The Romney team announced the endorsement just before sending out a copy of the op-ed. In the announcement, Romney heralded the endorsement as another show of his ability to bring in non-Republican support.
"Ross Perot's accomplishments as an entrepreneur, as a political leader, and as a naval officer make him a living legend," Romney wrote in an email statement.
"He understands the challenges facing the nation and what it will take to meet them. I am proud to have his support," Romney added.
The endorsement comes just two weeks after Perot refused to endorse either President Barack Obama or Romney in a series of interviews with C-SPAN.
"We're on the edge of the cliff, and we have got to start fixing it now. Otherwise, we're leaving a disaster to our children's and our grandchildren's future," Perot told USA Today, who sat in on the interview.
Refusing to choose either man, he did hint to his endorsement when he admitted "members of his family have donated almost exclusively to Republicans in recent years."
Perot ran for president in 1992 as an independent and again in 1996 as founder and member of the Reform Party. In neither election did he win any electoral votes, but he won 18.9 percent of the popular vote in 1992, making him the most successful third-party candidate since Teddy Roosevelt ran as a member of the Bull Moose Party in 1912.
He founded the information technology equipment and services company Electronic Data Systems, which he subsequently sold to General Motors for $2.5 million in 1984.
He also founded Perot Systems, an information technology services provider, which he sold to Dell for $3.9 billion in 2009. Perot is listed as the 101st richest man in the United States with a net worth of $3.5 billion.
by RTT Staff Writer
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