WASHINGTON — Just how rich is Mitt Romney? Add up the wealth of the last eight presidents, from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. Then double that number. Now you're in Romney territory.
He would be among the richest presidents in American history if elected — probably in the top four.
He couldn't top George Washington who, with nearly 60,000 acres and more than 300 slaves, is considered the big daddy of presidential wealth. After that, it gets complicated, depending 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.
But it's safe to say the Roosevelts had nothing on Romney, and the Bushes are nowhere close.
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.
Put alongside America's 400 or so billionaires, "Romney is small potatoes," said Jeffrey Winters, a political scientist at Northwestern University who studies the nation's elites.
But in 2009, when only 8,274 federal tax filers had income above $10 million, Romney was solidly within that elite 0.006 percent of all U.S. taxpayers.
Congress is flush with millionaires. Only a few are in the Romney realm, including Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who was the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004. Kerry's ranking would climb much higher if the fortune of his wife, Teresa Heinz, were counted. She is the widow of Sen. John Heinz, heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune.
Further up the ladder, top hedge fund managers can pocket $1 billion or more in a single year.
At the top of the wealth pile sits Bill Gates, worth $59 billion, according to Forbes magazine's estimates.