The current lineup of presidential candidates may be claiming to represent the beliefs and political views of most American citizens, but from a financial standpoint they represent the top 1% of annual income earners. They are quite wealthy, and are millionaires many times over. Below is an overview of the top candidates from the Republican side, as well as a detail of the current Commander in Chief.
The most powerful person in the world earned an estimated salary of $400,000 last year as the President, and is estimated to be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million to $12 million. Book royalties appear to constitute the bulk of his wealth creation since becoming President, with an estimated range of just over $1 million on up to closer to $6 million. Of course, his potential will be even greater after leaving public office, with the potential for millions of dollars due to speaking engagements, consulting contracts and future book deals.
Romney would qualify as one of the wealthiest presidents, if elected. His net worth estimates range from $190 million to $250 million. He created his wealth as a businessman, most notably as the head of private equity shop Bain Capital from 1984 to 1999. His tax return from 2010 reportedly showed an adjusted gross income of close to $22 million, with an estimated $8 million stemming from dividends and interest from his investment portfolio. Other notable sources of income include up to a million from book royalties, several hundred thousand from speaking engagements and more than six figures from serving on the board of directors of public companies.
Gingrich's net worth has been pegged at around $6 million, which is up considerably from closer to $2 million back in 2006. Much of his income and net worth stems from the Gingrich Group, an entity he runs that focuses on consulting activities to businesses. Gingrich Group has reportedly collected $55 million in revenue over the past decade, and helped Gingrich himself earn an estimated $2.5 million in income in 2010. (For more, check out The Market And Presidential Promises.)
Santorum is only modestly wealthy when looking at the above front runners. His net worth estimate is only between roughly $500,000 and $2.6 million. Sources of income include fees earned from participating in radio talk shows, writing for a Philadelphia paper in Pennsylvania where he served as senator for more than a decade up to 2007 and investment earnings, such as the exercise of stock options. He also reportedly owns some real estate properties that generate an annual income. An estimate of his income for more than half of 2010 was roughly $1 million.
Ron Paul's estimated net worth is between roughly $2.4 million and $5.4 million. Apparently, he has been a big investor in gold, which, if held over the past few years, would have increased his wealth significantly. Investment income also looks to be sizable, with close to six figures in pension plan income and income from a property management company he is involved in. He also earns $174,000 annually as a congressman and reported an estimated 2010 total income of nearly $1 million.
The Bottom Line
Again, Romney leads the pack in terms of overall wealth and if elected, would be one of the wealthiest presidents in history. Regardless of the outcome, serving in public office has been a significant wealth generator for the individuals highlighted above. A trip to the White House would further improve their wealth positions, not that any of the above currently need help in that department. (To learn more about the President, read The Presidential Resume.)