Hillary Rodham Clinton says she and Bill were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001. Legal fees associated with President Clinton’s impeachment over aspects of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky left the couple roughly $12 million in debt, the former secretary of State told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Ms. Clinton argues that because of their financial straits, she understands what it means for ordinary Americans to struggle to make ends meet. But Republicans have leapt on this comment as a means to try to portray her as out of touch.
True, they were in the red when the gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue shut behind them. However, Mr. Clinton was in line to receive an annual $200,000 pension as an ex-president. Ms. Clinton had been elected to the US Senate from New York.
Their real problem was that they needed to scrabble to make enough cash to live like “their rich and famous pals, and to do that they had to milk their fame for all it has been worth,” charges conservative Jennifer Rubin Tuesday on her “Right Turn” Washington Post blog.
Since then, the couple has made more than $100 million in income from speeches and books. Their net worth is an estimated $10 million to $50 million.
Will this spat over finances have any actual electoral effect? We’d say the chances of that are close to zero. Voters do think a candidate’s ability to relate to average folks is important, but they tend to judge that by how the candidate performs on television. President George W. Bush rated high on this score, for instance, and he’s worth $20 million himself.
No, Ms. Clinton’s biggest problem at the moment isn’t some slip of the tongue. It isn’t even her role in whatever happened in Benghazi, points out Brendan Nyhan, an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth. It’s Obama fatigue.
“A far more significant threat to her potential candidacy is Americans’ desire for new leadership after eight years of the Obama administration,” writes Professor Nyhan recently in The New York Times’s policy section “The Upshot.”
Nyhan points to a recent Pew/USA Today poll that finds that 65 percent of Americans would like to see a president who offers policies and programs different from those of the current administration. Only 30 percent would like policies and programs similar to those of President Obama.
OK, but just out of curiosity, how rich are the Clintons, anyway?
In terms of US presidents, they’re pretty wealthy, according to a list of the net worth of all US chief executives compiled by the 24/7 Wall St. site.
This list, updated earlier this year, pegs Mr. Clinton’s net worth at the high end of most estimates: $55 million. That would be good enough to make him the 11th richest president, out of 44 who have served so far.
By extension, that means Ms. Clinton is almost eight times as rich as Mr. Obama, in case you’re interested. His net worth is listed as $7 million.
The richest president of all time? That would be John F. Kennedy, whose family estate, amassed by his Wall Street financier father Joseph P. Kennedy, approached $1 billion in today’s dollars.