Five businessmen who made successful politicians – and smashed the Donald Trump stereotype

(4) Ross Perot

After leaving the Navy in 1957, Perot worked as an employee for IBM. Soon after, he branched out on his own to form Electronic Data Systems. 

But for many, Perot will be remembered as the tycoon-turned-politician who ran for president in 1992 and 1996 as a third-party candidate. 

Better than any other business politician in American history, Perot sold voters on the idea that he had superior problem-solving skills compared to the traditional politicians of either party,” said economist Cedric Muhammad. 

“He fused his business success story and Texan confidence into a formula that gave the electorate the impression he could manage the nation’s affairs more efficiently and face its fiscal difficulties more bravely than a Republican or Democrat.”

Susan MacManus, professor of political science at the University of South Florida, claimed that he combined his ability to break down economic trends to the average person with a visual – “before visuals were really commonplace on television. You know, what he did with those charts was fabulous.”

Although many have likened Perot and Trump, Perot drew fuel from the 1990 budget summit/tax hike that George Bush backed.

Perot also made budget balancing a national policy agenda item, and after Clinton won the presidency, the country had a balanced budget one mid-term election later.

(5) Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney began his career in business by working for management consulting firm Bain & Company. In 1984 he founded investment firm Bain Capital, which invested and acquired household names such as Domino’s Pizza, Staples and Toys “R” Us.

Bain Capital is one of the world’s leading private, alternative asset management firms, with approximately $70bn (£44.97bn) in assets under management.

Romney became governor of Massachusetts in 2003 with the nationwide economy still in the slump that followed the tech bust. Unemployment was rising – in Massachusetts and nationally – and job growth was stagnant. During Romney’s term, these trends reversed. Unemployment declined and jobs began to rebound. 

During a 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference, Romney cited some of the figures that landed him on the list.

He said: “When I took office, I was facing a $3bn (£1.93bn) budget deficit and an economy in a tailspin.

“Even with a legislature that was 85 per cent Democrat, I cut taxes 19 times and balanced the budget all four years. I cast over 800 vetoes and cut entire programs. I erased a $3bn (£1.93bn) budget shortfall and left office with a $2bn (£1.28bn) rainy-day fund.”

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