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Presidential hopefuls living large

Posted by: Prashant Gopal on December 13, 2007

The candidates like to talk about everyday Americans, but as a new Newsweek article makes clear, nothing is average about the way they live. In addition to his ski lodge in Utah, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has a $10 million estate in New Hampshire. The candidate’s primary residence in the Boston suburb of Belmont is worth $1.8 million, nearly 3 times the area’s average, according to Newsweek.

And it seems that the candidates’ hometowns generally haven’t escaped the real estate slowdown, according to a report from, Fidelity National Financial’s home valuation site.
Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudolph Giuliani, who are the leading presidential candidates in most national polls, are near the bottom of the pack when it comes to the estimated appreciation of homes in their neighborhoods, according to the Web site.
In Chappaqua, where the Clintons bought a Dutch colonial in 1999 for $1.7 million, median home prices rose just .75% during the 12 months ending October 2007. Median prices on the Upper East Side, where Giuliani owns a nine-room co-op, dipped .75%. Houses in Republican Mike Huckabee’s North Little Rock, Ark ZIP code saw a 6.8% price increase during the 12-month period, the largest appreciation of any candidate’s town. Home prices in Fred Thompson’s hometown of McLean, Va. have dropped 1.1%, the worst showing of any candidate’s ZIP code, according to the Web site.

Reader Comments

Sally in Chicago

December 13, 2007 2:53 PM

Your article is why you will see probably the lowest voter turnouts in years....because the average worker & voter cannot relate to the rich politicians anymore. Does Romney really really feel he can reach out and relate to the man in the ghetto or in Compton? The average voter (myself included) just don't care about this blow-hards anymore. The whole political game has become a joke. We feel closer to home with local politics...that is where the real difference is where we can actually take to the streets or petition or recall...but on the national level - fuggedaboutit. And is anybody really truly watching these debates? I bet the viewer numbers are so low that the candidates would be better off debating in a closed back room.

Fred Paxson

December 13, 2007 5:07 PM

Nice try at fostering class warfare, but lots of us aren't biting. The American dream is to become successful, like Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson did.

Fred came from a working-class home and made something of himself (actor, lawyer, consultant, U.S. Senator, etc..) Who here doesn't want to work hard and make something of themselves? We should be praising people like these, not writing jealous screeds about them being "out of touch" with average Americans. Senator Thompson worked his way through college and law school and earned every dollar he made since then.

Who do you think provides the jobs that "average Americans" go to every day to feed their families? Wealthy individuals, that's who!

Brian Brady

December 14, 2007 2:55 AM

I'm inclined to agree with Fred Paxson on this. The President of the United States is an awfully demanding job. I would hope that we elect someone quite accomplished to that position.

While accomplishment does not necessarily equal wealth, why penalize a candidate for his transparent demonstration of accomplishment?

Brandon W

December 14, 2007 10:05 AM

Only 9% of the super-wealthy, top 1% of earners, inherited their wealth. The other 91% made the money from their own efforts. And now - even though they already pay about half of the tax load to carry the country, we want to criticize them and take MORE from them to give to "the rest of us" who haven't earned it. The bottom 50% of the population only pays about 3% of the taxes. If the tax system is unfair, it isn't the less-wealthy that it's being unfair to.

The fact is, we've reached the feared "tyranny of the masses". The less-wealthy want what the top performers have earned, so they vote en masse for politicians who will use government power to steal it from the wealthy and give it to them. And we wonder why the wealthy try to get their money out of this country with tax havens?

When did people stop using common sense?

Aaron S

December 14, 2007 2:09 PM

Well said Brandon W. Almost all of the "greedy CEOs" people like Lou Dobbs castigate nightly, are self-made - they worked very hard, took great risks and earned their rewards. Most of the ranters sit on their behinds and wallow in self-pity.

FYI Lou "voice-of-the-middle-class" Dobbs lives on a 200-acre mansion in Bergen County NJ and rakes in hundreds of millions of $. Who is he kidding?


December 14, 2007 4:02 PM

Gopal ignores reality. Most ordinary Americans can't afford the time and money for round-the-clock political life, so it's usually left to (sometimes empathetic) millionaires. In my hometown of Jersey City, the average shnook has to sell out to the big developers or the poltical machine in order to have a worthwhile political career. Independent wealth affords the candidate some independence and is a rough measure of achievement.

Mike D.

December 14, 2007 6:06 PM

Yeah, Hilly doesn't live in a mansion. Oh, wait, that's not right. Well, at least she was so poor when leaving the White House that she had to steal stuff and then give it back when caught.


December 14, 2007 6:56 PM



December 14, 2007 6:58 PM


Jerry S

December 14, 2007 8:30 PM

Since when did America ever elect "average" people to be president? Washington? Jefferson? Kennedy?

And why should we elect people to the highest office in the land who have never distinguished themselves?


December 18, 2007 9:26 PM

Streetcar's on the money. Politics is a capital intensive business, and like all big business, players don't always go the whole nine on their dime -- they get financing. And you have to have a certain amount of credit, cash, equity, capital, etc., to get started.

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BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.

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