The Rich, the Poor And the Oval Office

Being wealthy is no bar to the presidency. The trick is to convince voters that you can feel their pain

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Republican presidential candidates, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) (L) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney place their hands over their hearts during the National Anthem at the start of a debate sponsored by CNN, the Republican Party of Florida and the Hispanic Leadership Network at the University North Florida on January 26, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Rich man, poor man--the American presidency has had its share of each. Yet history tells us that economic status is one of the less reliable leading indicators of presidential performance. The office has been occupied by old-money class warriors and self-made worshippers of capitalist dogma. Indeed, the Oval Office may be one place where size doesn't matter. At least where the size of one's fortune is concerned. It's how a President defines success and what, if any, scars he has accumulated in his rise to power that reveal more than his net worth.

It's hard to imagine Abraham Lincoln as a...

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