5 Richest U.S. Presidential Candidates

by InvestorPlace Staff | January 23, 2012 10:32 am

Money may or may not make the world go around, but when it comes to running for President of the United States, it certainly makes things a lot easier. While having millions and millions of dollars is not a 100% guarantee you will get elected president, the richest candidates to have run for president[1] since 1992 certainly had a leg up on the competition because of their wealth. Here’s a look at the top five:

5. Al Gore

Current estimated net worth: $100 million

The vice president of the United States from 1993-2001, Gore narrowly lost the 2000 presidential election to former Texas Gov. George W. Bush after the Florida vote recount controversy was settled in the Supreme Court. Gore decided against a 2004 election run and focused on environmental politics, writing a book about global warming titled An Inconvenient Truth that later became an Academy Award-winning documentary. Gore’s current wealth includes holdings in real estate, speaking fees and stock options from his time spent on the board of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL[2]).

4. John Kerry

Current estimated net worth: $240 million

Kerry won the Democratic nomination for president in 2004, ultimately losing to George W. Bush in the general election. Today, Kerry remains in the Senate, as the senior Senator from Massachusetts. Much of Kerry’s wealth comes from his wife, Teresa Heinz, who is the widow of an heir to the H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ[3]) fortune, as well as the couple’s real estate investments.

3. Mitt Romney

Current estimated net worth: $250 million

Romney may have dropped the South Carolina GOP primary on Saturday, but his financial fortunes are far more stable than his political ones. The former governor of Massachusetts from 2002-2006, Romney was a candidate for the 2008 Republican nomination, ultimately losing to Arizona Sen. John McCain. Romney’s fortune, much of which was earned while working for the private equity firm he helped found in 1984, comes from investment in banks, credit corporations, and real estate.

2. Steve Forbes

Current estimated net worth: $450 million

Forbes is the current president, CEO, and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, and is the third generation of his family (following his father Malcolm Forbes and his grandfather and magazine founder B.C. Forbes) to have a hand in the magazine’s operations. Forbes ran for the Republican nomination in 1996 and 2000, losing out to former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole and George W. Bush, respectively. Since then, Forbes has stayed out of electoral politics, though he and his magazine still play an important role in shaping conservative policy.

1. Ross Perot

Current estimated net worth: $3.58 billion

Yes, that’s billion with a “B.” Perot’s fortune dwarfs those of his fellow former presidential candidates. He has more than two-and-a-half times the money as the other nine candidates on this list put together. Perot ran for president as an independent in 1992 and as a third-party candidate (with his newly founded Reform Party) in 1996, earning nearly 19% of the popular vote in 1992 and over 8% in 1996. Although he did not win a single electoral vote in either election, his performance in both elections marks him as one of the most successful third-party candidates in recent history. And how did Perot earn his billions? While some of it came from selling his data processing firm, Perot Systems, to Dell (NASDAQ:DELL[4]) in 2009, much of his fortune comes from municipal bonds.

For the complete list of the 10 richest U.S. presidential candidates since 1992, check out this cnbc.com slideshow[5].

— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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  1. the richest candidates to have run for president: http://www.cnbc.com//id/46070801?slide=1
  2. AAPL: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=AAPL
  3. HNZ: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=HNZ
  4. DELL: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=DELL
  5. cnbc.com slideshow: http://www.cnbc.com//id/46070801?slide=1

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