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Poll shows Obama and Romney in dead heat

Sarah Gardner Apr 18, 2012

Kai Ryssdal: This is gonna be a pretty interesting election this fall. For a whole lot of reasons, obviously, one of which is that it’s a race between a rich guy and a really rich guy. And what Americans will make of that.

We know how much the president makes because A) we pay him. But also because he told us Monday when he released his tax returns. Gov. Romney hasn’t released his; he’s filed for an extension.

But does that adjusted gross income line on your 1040 affect how you govern? Marketplace’s Sarah Gardner reports.

Sarah Gardner: If Mitt Romney wins the White House,  he’d be ourfourth wealthiest president ever. That’s according to Forbes, anyway. George Washington was No. 1 because of all his land and slaves.  But does a candidate’s personal wealth say anything about how they’d govern?

H.W. Brands: A question like that is impossible to answer until it actually happens.

Presidential historian H.W. Brands.

Brands: Because candidates for president think in one way. Presidents have to deal in a different milieu.

As do governors. While governor of Massachusetts, Romney tried to close tax loopholes favoring big business. And Princeton historian Julian Zelizer says Romney wasn’t thinking about the wealthy when he pushed through his biggest program there.

Julian Zelizer: He passed health care, which was a pretty big extension of governmnent even though he himself is philosophically opposed to government.

Business historian John Steele Gordon says Romney’s wealth might even work to the advantage of the 99 percent.

John Steele Gordon: My guess is that Romney would tend to bend over backwards in order not to appear to favor the rich.

Perhaps. But political scientist Maurice Cunningham at UMass Boston says in the end, he believes Romney’s just more comfortable with policies that favor the well-heeled.

Maurice Cunningham: He believes that the upper class serve the nation well and the nation should do what it can to help them prosper and drag the rest of us along, if you will.

And nobody expects Romney to pull an FDR. He leaked the tax returns of some of the country’s wealthiest tax avoiders.

I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

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