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Romney vs. Obama: Where their money goes

Here's a look at President Obama's and Mitt Romney's homes, cars and clothes closets.

By Stacy Johnson Oct 15, 2012 11:57AM

This post comes from Renee Morad at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News logoAs the presidential race heats up, Americans are trying to assess the spending priorities of President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney on everything from Social Security to health care.


People putting political symbols in box Comstock Images/Getty ImagesWe're tuning in to speeches, debates and news articles to understand the presidential candidates' values. But as we consider what these men will do with taxpayers' money, perhaps we can learn something from how they spend their own.


Romney's net worth is estimated at $250 million; Obama's is about $11 million. Here are some details about their big purchases over the years.




Mitt and Ann Romney own a 3,009-square-foot Mediterranean-style beachfront property in La Jolla, Calif. Romney purchased the home for $12 million in 2008. The house, built in 1936, has three bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms and a deck with a lap pool and spa. But it may not be there for long. In 2011, he filed an application with La Jolla officials to bulldoze the single-story home and replace it with a larger, two-story home.


The Romneys purchased a 13-acre property on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, N.H., for $2.5 million to $3 million in 1997. The main house is 5,400 square feet, and there's also a boathouse (valued at $630,000) and a horse stable with guest houses above it. The assessed value of the estate was $8 million in July. 


In addition to his California and New Hampshire homes, Romney bought a 2,100-square-foot, two-bedroom townhouse in the Woodlands at Belmont Hill, in Massachusetts, for $895,000 in June 2010. In the past, Romney owned a larger estate in Belmont, Mass., which he sold for $3.5 million in 2009, and a ski home in Park City, Utah, which he sold for about $5.25 million in 2009.



Obama and first lady Michelle own a 6,199-square-foot brick home in Chicago. They purchased the property, built in 1917, for $1.65 million in 2005.


That's the only home the Obamas own. However, the New York City apartment he rented while a student at Columbia University in the 1980s was recently on the rental market, according to Zillow -- with a price tag of $2,400 a month for two bedrooms and one bath.



Back in February, Romney discussed his family's collection of cars during a speech in Detroit.


"I love this country. I actually love this state. It just feels good, being back in Michigan," Romney said. "I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit-made automobiles. I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually. And I used to have a Dodge truck, so I used to have all three (major automakers) covered."


According to CBS News, Romney's campaign quickly issued a clarification explaining that Ann's cars are 2007 and 2010 Cadillac SRX models, and that one of them is at the family's house in California, while the other is at their Massachusetts residence.


To accommodate his car collection, there have been rumors that Romney plans to build a "car elevator" for his four-car garage during his California home renovations.



Obama leased a fully loaded 2005 Chrysler 300C when he was a U.S. senator. He ditched the Chrysler in the summer of 2007 when he launched his presidential campaign and decided to lease a more fuel-efficient 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid. 


According to used-car authority Kelley Blue Book, Obama's former Chrysler 300C is valued at $19,142. In early 2009 when Obama took office as president, veteran eBay car seller Lisa Czibor, who lives near Chicago, tried to sell the car for $1 million -- with the help of a posted photo of the car's title in Obama's name.


As for the Ford Escape, it was returned to the Illinois dealership in 2010. The vehicle was put up for auction, but no further details were released.




Mitt Romney's longstanding reputation for wearing tailored suits and ties traces back to his early days at Bain Capital. Back in 2007, when Time magazine put Romney on its cover, the headline read, "Sure, he looks like a president."


More recently, however, Romney has been opting for Kirkland-brand dress shirts that cost $18 at Costco, prompting speculation that he's trying to better relate to everyday Americans on the campaign trail.


Ann Romney claims she's an avid Costco shopper as well, but has also been seen sporting pricey attire: Her $990 Krakoff T-shirt drew criticism this spring after her appearance on CBS' "This Morning."


In August, a knee-length Oscar de la Renta dress Ann wore during a speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., also created buzz. The Financial Times' fashion editor said the dress cost somewhere between $2,090 and $2,490. 



Obama has made appearances in suits that cost an estimated $1,500. But that's nothing compared with Michelle Obama's occasional splurges. She wore a $6,800 jacket from designer J. Mendel to a reception at Buckingham Palace for the opening of the London Olympics, for example.


During less lavish soirees, Michelle is often dressed in a more subtle fashion, such as a dress by Tracy Reese paired with pumps from J. Crew. The dress has not yet been produced, but similar versions cost $395 to $450.


It's worth adding that Michelle's fashion often comes without a price: She sometimes receives wardrobe items from top designers like Jason Wu for free, months before the fashion lines hit stores. Oh, the luxuries of being first lady.


More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:

Oct 16, 2012 11:50PM
Well, you have explained how they spend their own money, but have you listed how Obama spends our tax dollars?  Because that is the real story.
Oct 15, 2012 11:17PM
Why not just ask the candidates what's their favorite color??  That makes about as much sense as this article!  Judge the candidates on their accomplishments and records, not on this kind of fluff!
Oct 15, 2012 10:55PM
This is the most ignorant article ever. What a President does with their own money has nothing to do with how they spend the public's money, and it is what they do with MY money that I give a damn about. What I look at is what they say and what they do, not what clothes they wear, or how big a house they have. If you look at Romney, he lives VERY frugally compared to his wealth, and he GIVES far more than Obama as a percentage of his earnings (which are capital gains since he no longer works, while Obama continues to falsely accuse him of paying less than a mechanic who is actually paying income taxes on actual earnings). What tells me what either man has done is his past. Obama promises that governmetn will take care of everyone, and he will redistribute YOUR wealth to keep his promises even if he bankrupts the country in doing so. The Constitution is nothing more than an inconvenience to him, so you know where he is going. Romney isn't perfect, but he respects the Constitution, and wants to grow the economy so EVERYONE has the opportunity to do better for themselves and their families. Basically, Obama calculates that the plurality of people want him to control the economy so they will get a check, while Romney wants to have a dynamic, bottom up economy of small businesses that grow and hire people creating increased wealth for all. I think it's easy to see that the latter is what brings about prosperity, while the former sends us into Greece, Italy, and Spain bankruptcy.
Oct 15, 2012 9:31PM
I don't care what side you are on. Both sides are giving crap about how Romney and Obama are spending their paychecks. They are both getting hell because they are "spending taxpayer money" on these items. Well yes, as government employees, their paychecks come from the tax payer. I am a teacher. I am a government employee. My salary comes from tax payer moneys. Citizens have not given me grief over how I spend "their" money. I don't really see the difference, with the exception of the number of figures before the decimal point. Romney and Obama have earned their paychecks, as I have earned mine. Why should they not be able to spend what they earn in a manner they see fit?
Oct 15, 2012 7:53PM
Here is a story of a man. This man had a company and one day one of his worker call in sick, because his 15 year old daughter was missing in New York City. So this man closed the company and flew his 50 plus employees to NYC to help find this girl. He set up a command post, printed flyers, and organized search party. They found the girl being held in the basement of 19 year old boys house. The girl went to a party ( against her parent permission) took ecstasy and you can fill in the blanks. The point to the story is this man paid for all this and helped find this girl because he cares about people.
Oct 15, 2012 7:48PM
Everybody is rich in someone else's eyes!
Oct 15, 2012 7:37PM
I would like to see what Moochelle spends her/his money on?
Oct 15, 2012 7:33PM
Now he (Romney) needs one more for his "cars".  He can do it with the tax cuts he's proposing. (he can do it, he can do it, he can do it, he can do it)
Oct 15, 2012 7:33PM

I think its a crime that these two blow money [ tax payers money !]  while people are hurting for food ,housing ,jobs

etc.... the ladies are also very spendy !   All these gluttons and CEOs included will have their day when they meet

with the almighty ! No amount of money,fancy cars,extravagant homes or clothing is going to buy their way thru!

Kinda feel sorry for them in a way ..

Oct 15, 2012 7:31PM
I do find it funny that someone can portray a "White" man worth 250 million a filthy rich, but a little ol' black man worth only 11 million is the common guy.They both have more net worth that EVERY COMMON person will ever have.
Oct 15, 2012 7:30PM
  It isn't class envy. Neither Perot or Kerrys net worth even though far richer than Romney was an issue but they weren't running on a platform to reduce their taxes from 10.3% to near zero as Romney's plan will. They didn't blame working poor raising a family on 20K not paying taxes as what's wrong with this country and claim the rich like him paying 10.3% were being mistreated. Romney bashes the working poor then touts his greatest business success as Staples, a company with starting pay of around $8.30 an hour with few benefits. When you create the working poor don't complain when they pay no taxes.
Oct 15, 2012 7:29PM
live in the same area as the rich and worked a retailer. I can tell you from experience, once again this is from experience. Rich people are cheap, they don't want to spend money needlessly they do shop at the pricier stores, but if they can get the same thing from a store such Marshall's, Goodwill, TJ Maxx trust me they will. so the comments about Ann and Mitt doing this as an act is a little far fetched.
Oct 15, 2012 7:29PM


Romney needs another house. Maybe he'll purchase another one for his cars..With the tax cuts for the rich I'm sure he'll be making that purchase soon after he steals the election.

Oct 15, 2012 7:27PM

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'

Oct 15, 2012 7:27PM
If you want to see what a Romney economy will look like, try looking up Bainport or Sensata...  Maybe then you will understand the privatizing bit Romney is talking about...  Outsourcing to China. India, Mexico...  That is where Romney creates jobs...  He loves Chinese labor and even thought the labor camps were good ideas...
Oct 15, 2012 7:26PM

The article is so biased it's pathetic....what a typical liberal bias. It's all about how much more Romney has and how poor Obama is. Yeah right...99.9% of us don't have net worth's of $11,000,000.00 like Obama. How can Obama "play common man" with money like that...get real already!! When Obama was a Senator, the Chicago hospital put Michelle on the payroll - with a job title of public relations. She made $380,000 per year. and funny how when they hit the White House....the hospital job was not filled again. What a coincidence!!


Obama is "playing the American voters" for fools...I'm for the common man, so vote for me...while his kids attend $24,000 per year, per child - private school in DC. Obama and Michelle laugh everyday at how they fooled the voters in 2008....not this year....the fools' on him!! 

Oct 15, 2012 7:22PM
" Reading full statements (not those redacted) and working to understand the issues and their proposed solutions is our duty as citizens."

PLUS - looking at candidates's track records - WHAT THEY HAVE ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHED - would be ideal for every voter. It is by-god-remarkable that a sitting POTUS could have virtually none.

It''s a real problem concerning the big "O". There is a disconcerting lack of virtually any and all of his background and/or records. He has "produced"  - in his entire lifetime -  virtually the exact same amount as the first initial of his pseudonym. Which is...The big "O". A goose egg - aka. zero/zip/nada....nothing.
Oct 15, 2012 7:22PM
 The Mormon church owns the largest cattle ranch in the country at 330,000 acres and another that exceeds 200,000. They own shopping malls, TV and radio stations, office complexes and thousands of businesses. They are a non profit church who uses it's tax free wealth to aquire businesses and profit. They do modest charitable work but probably less than what they benefit as a tax exempt entity.
Oct 15, 2012 7:21PM
I think it sad that a lot of people think it's ok to verbally assault the Romney's over what amounts to financial envy. But you become a racist if you make a dislike statement about Obama and EVEN speak the truth. He is a 1/2 breed{Oh, you are racist} But a true statement. He is a crack and pot smoker in his youth.{ You are a racist cause you say this about a black man} But a true statement. Makes no sense. And don't think I'm wealthy. My picture shows I drive a 1929 vehicle. That's old.
Oct 15, 2012 7:20PM
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