The Richest Presidential Candidates

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Mitt Romney released his 2010 tax returns Tuesday, and much of the media focus has rightly been on his low tax rate: Due to a combination of charitable tithing and the peculiar way the tax code treats his income from Bain Capital, he pays an effective rate of just 13.9%.

The candid look at the candidate’s finances has also served to remind voters just how filthy, stinking rich the guy is. But like politicians sometimes have short memories (“I do not recall receiving that memo, no”), so too do voters; Romney is far from the richest candidate to run for president in recent decades, though he's definitely up there.

Romney, who made his fortune in management consulting and private equity, boasts a net worth of approximately $250 million, placing him among the top five richest Americans to run for president in the last 20 years. And while that pile of cash has certainly made it easier for him to run his two presidential campaigns (he failed to win the nomination back in 2008), it also threatens to make it more difficult for him to connect with the average voter. That vulnerability was highlighted in December when Romney offered a $10,000 bet to then-candidate Rick Perry – a sum many Americans could only dream about wagering (in fact, it’s equal to a fifth of the median U.S. household income).

So how have similarly wealthy American fared in politics? To put things in context, Wealth-X, a consultancy that specializes in research on ultra-high net worth individuals, compiled a ranking of the richest Americans to run for president in the last twenty years. As you’ll see, being filthy rich isn’t a roadblock to winning the nomination, but it doesn’t seem to help you seal the deal in the general election.

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