Leading Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is finding himself in an awkward spot: He's defending his net worth and at the same time trying to keep it private.
In an interview Monday night on ABC's "World News," anchor Diane Sawyer directly asked Romney if he was too rich to relate to the American public. Romney responded by deflecting attention away from his net worth and toward leadership of the country in a difficult economy. "This is a time when people of different backgrounds and different experiences need to come together," he said. "I happen to believe that I'm by far the best qualified in this race between myself and President Obama to help the American people get good jobs and rising incomes and eliminate the massive deficit that America's facing."
Romney also dismissed Obama's suggestion that he release the past 12 years of tax returns, countering that Obama is simply trying to move focus away from the failure of his economic policies. "He's going to try to make this campaign about the fact that I've been successful, that I've made a lot of money," he told Sawyer, adding that Obama released two years of tax returns. "I'm happy to release two years of records, and that's plenty for people to understand how I paid my taxes and the fact that I've been highly successful."
Romney is wealthy by anyone's standards (net worth of approximately $250 million and a multimillion-dollar home in La Jolla, Calif.), but he's certainly not the wealthiest candidate in recent decades. That honor belongs to Ross Perot, a candidate in the 1992 and 1996 elections, who has a net worth of almost $4 billion. Others, including Steve Forbes, a candidate in the 2000 presidential election who is worth $450 million, have been far wealthier than Romney.
Some people believe a candidate who has been financially successful outside of politics brings a more realistic view to the table when it comes to improving the economy. Others believe that more experience in public policy makes the better candidate.
Do you believe a candidate's personal wealth improves or impedes his prospects as a president?
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