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Just How Rich Is Mitt Romney in Comparison to Past Presidents

Mitt Romney at Bain Capital (Boston Globe)

We all know he is rich, but just how rich is Mitt Romney?

Romney's wealth has come under the microscope following the release of his tax returns last Tuesday, which revealed that the former Massachusetts governor earned $21.7 million in 2010.

According to the Associated Press, you would be in Romney territory if you added up the wealth of the last eight presidents, from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, then doubled that number. If Romney were to be elected he would be among the richest presidents in American history— probably in the top four.

The list of the wealthiest President's has long been topped by George Washington, who during his life owned nearly 60,000 acres and more than 300 slaves. Research by 24/7 Wall St., a news and analysis website, estimated Washington's wealth at the equivalent of $525 million in 2010 dollars.

The AP notes that after that, it gets complicated, depending on how you rate Thomas Jefferson's plantation, Herbert Hoover's millions from mining or John F. Kennedy's share of the vast family fortune, as well as the finer points of factors like inflation adjustment. AP reports on Romney's wealth:

"The former Massachusetts governor has disclosed only the broad outlines of his wealth, putting it somewhere from $190 million to $250 million. That easily could make him 50 times richer than Obama, who falls in the still-impressive-to-most-of-us range of $2.2 million to $7.5 million.

[...]

After all, even in the rarefied world of the top 1 percent, there's a big difference between life at the top and at the bottom.

A household needs to bring in roughly $400,000 per year to make the cut. Romney and his wife, Ann, have been making 50 times that - more than $20 million a year. In 2009, only 8,274 federal tax filers had income above $10 million. Romney is solidly within that elite 0.006 percent of all U.S. taxpayers."

But should one's personal wealth be a determent for their ability to lead the country?

As the economy has floundered throughout the Obama presidency and a populist anger has risen against the "one percent," questions have been raised about the extreme wealth of the former Massachusetts governor and current Republican presidential candidate.

During Thursday's CNN debate, Romney unapologetically defended his career and success in the free enterprise system, asking Republicans to see his accomplishments not as a detriment but as an asset to help America:

One last thing…
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