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How Rich Are the Presidential Candidates?

This article was written by in Wealth and Affluence. 15 comments.

When politicians are campaigning, some try to reinforce the idea that they are similar to most Americans. Candidates for President of the United States try to avoid being labeled as elitist, because some sort of connection and kinship with their constituency is important for winning the favor of voters who aren’t already entrenched with a Democrat or Republican ideology.

Of course, the attempt to be viewed as an “average American” is nothing more than marketing and public relations. In order to find one’s way into the political arena at that level, you need to carry something that sets you aside from most Americans. And while money doesn’t guarantee a victory, it doesn’t hurt.

CNN has reported the net worth and income of the Republican presidential candidates as well as President Obama to see how they compare with each other. Like most Americans, they generally have wealth tied into their homes, but their investments, and in some cases, major liabilities and use of blind trusts, show that this crew lives in a world unfamiliar to most Americans.

Mitt RomneyMitt Romney’s net worth is between $85 million and $264 million. This is a wide range; with lenient reporting requirements, it’s difficult to be specific. He earns most from dividends and interest on his investments as well as from speaking engagements. Romney includes horses and gold among his investments. According to the Federal Election Commission, Mitt Romney has raised $32 million for his campaign as of September 2011 (the latest data).

Jon Huntsman’s net worth is between $16 million and $72 million. CNN points out that Huntsman’s father is one of the richest men in the world, as has donated more than $1 billion to universities and medical research. Huntsman has raised $4.5 million for his campaign as of September 2011.

Newt Gingrich’s net worth is between $7 million and $31 million. Last year, Gingrich earned $2.4 million from his own company, Gingrich Productions, and most of his assets are tied to this company. He also has listed up to $1 million in liabilities in the form of a line of credit with Tiffany and Co. Gingrich has raised $2.9 million for his campaign as of September 2011.

Barack Obama’s net worth is between $2.8 million and $11.8 million. Thanks to sales of his books, Obama can count himself among the richest politicians. He also earns a $400,000 salary as President. Obama has raised $88 million for his re-election campaign as of September 2011.

Ron Paul’s net worth is between $2.4 million and $5.4 million. This includes a five-year personal bank loan of up to $500,000. As a fan of gold, Paul has major investments in companies involved with gold and silver mining. Paul has raised almost $13 million for his campaign as of September 2011.

Rick Santorum’s net worth is between $1 million and $3 million. Santorum’s wealth is in rental real estate properties. He also has mortgages comprising debt of up to $750,000 on properties with a value of up to $1.25 million. He earned $1.3 million from January to August 2010 as a contributor on Fox News and from the Ethics and Public Policy Center think tank. Santorum raised $1.3 million for his campaign as of September 2011.

Rick Perry’s net worth is between $1 million and $2.5 million. The “poorest” of all presidential candidates, Perry receives a $133,000 salary as the governor of Texas. He has a diversified portfolio of stock investments. Perry raised $17 million for his campaign as of September 2011.

Should the individual who represents the United States of America domestically and globally be a reflection of American society? Does wealth tie into that equation?

Photo: Maassive
CNN, Federal Election Commission

Published or updated January 13, 2012.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

Unfortunately, we can no longer have the common man represent us in government. It takes a lot of money to get elected. You do not have to personally wealthy, but ir works out that way. The connections with wealth helps raise money to get elected.

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avatar 2 Anonymous

Wouldn’t you want someone who was financially successful to be who was running our government? I don’t mean they have to be Romney/Huntsman wealthy, but having a net worth above the median strikes me as right, especially if it’s self-made.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

A majority of the founding fathers probably had more wealth than current politicians. Granted, it was mostly tied up in land, but they were generally not the common folk. Franklin was very wealthy, but he started out very poor. I think the wealth is a net positive. Romney certainly is not in this for the money. Ditto for Bloomberg in NYC.

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avatar 4 Ceecee

It is also of interest whether they obtained their wealth through their own means, or whether it was family money. I don’t like to hold wealth against anyone, but I don’t like to hold a median American income against them either. The political system does just that. I know a lot of very smart and effective citizens who earn an average living. Their values may not lead to great riches, in the monetary sense, but they are successful.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

I doubt we’ll ever get a middle class type person in the office. Deep pockets mean contacts which means the right people getting the wheels in motion. Unfortunately a guy like me is never going to have the inroads that a high roller, so even if I have the best messages and ideas in the world (I don’t, sadly) they wouldn’t get heard until I got a few mil.

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avatar 6 Anonymous

Did you ever see that old movie, “Meet John Doe?” It was about a middle class person who was picked to run for president. When he realized the political party was just using him and would be making the real decisions he quit.
A wealthy person might not need to use the office to bring him more money, but he also might not be sympathetic to the needs of the common people. Sometimes I wish we had a system that functioned well with more than one political party. How about 4 or 5 parties? Why not?

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avatar 7 qixx

I’d rather have someone well off running the country. You don’t want someone that might have to worry about their own finances deciding the finances of the country.

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avatar 8 shellye

Agreed. You don’t want the President to have bill collectors chasing him.

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avatar 9 Anonymous

It’s sad that so much money goes into politics that only these rich guys even get their voice heard. I wish the system was limited it what could be spent a lot more.

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avatar 10 wylerassociate

I want a smart, serious, secular & objective american to be my president. With the Citizens United decision & lobbyists writing legislation in Congress politics in america is always going to be where idiot ignorant candidates who recite simplistic talking points are pushed for public office.

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avatar 11 Donna Freedman

Mr. Smith can’t AFFORD to go to Washington. How can a wealthy person understand how life works today — not back when s/he was a starving student or struggling business professional — for so many Americans?

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avatar 12 Anonymous

Ron Paul isn’t all that wealthy for his age especially when you compare him to the other candidates.

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avatar 13 lynn

When did it become so expensive to run for office? It’s my understanding most political figures make their millionns while in office. I can’t remember the exact figure, but President Obama was worth under 1 million when he took office. Maybe someone remembesr the amount.

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avatar 14 Anonymous

I don’t think that personal wealth has much to do with how well a President will do in office.
George Washington was stinking rich in his day and Abraham Lincoln wasn’t rich at all. Both were great presidents.

I also don’t think that having wealthy people run for office is some sort of sign that our nation is doomed. The founding fathers were almost all quite well off. There was never a time when poor people ran the country.

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avatar 15 Anonymous

The election is a super bowl for the rich

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