Rich Choices in November
So what the RNC and Bush campaign are trying to do is close the gap on the one big personality issue where Kerry has an advantage.
"What the Republican party and their strategist are trying to do is say, 'he may be a Democrat, but he's a limousine liberal and he doesn't get it,'" Kohut said. "It's not an unreasonable position for them to take from a tactical standpoint."
There's Rich, Then There Is Just Plain Loaded
Wealth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Chris Rock jokes about this in a stand-up routine. People think Oprah Winfrey is rich, he says. But if Bill Gates woke up with one day with "Oprah money" he'd probably kill himself, Rock jokes.
Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry, heiress to the Heinz family fortune, are reportedly worth about half a billion dollars. The Associated Press reported in March that Kerry and his wife own "at least five homes and vacation getaways across the country valued at nearly $33 million."
That wealth has been an issue since the primaries. Kerry was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans when he borrowed $6 million against the equity in a Boston town house, a move that allowed him to avoid the strictures of public financing in the primary. Kerry's jetting off to his $5 million ski getaway in Ketchum, Idaho, made big news on the Drudge Report and conservative talk radio. And one of the first negative Kerry ads by a Republican-linked group, Citizens United, poked fun at Kerry's wealth.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the 30-second ad ran in 12 states and "flashes photographs of the candidate, boats in a harbor and various pieces of real estate, while a narrator says: 'Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry. Hairstyle by Christophe's: $75. Designer shirts: $250. Forty-two-foot luxury yacht: $1 million. Four lavish mansions and beachfront estate: Over $30 million.'
"It then shows Kerry with his home-state Democratic colleague Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, as the narrator adds: 'Another rich, liberal elitist from Massachusetts who claims he's a man of the people. Priceless.'"
But Democrats defend Kerry, and say Bush, with his man-of-the-people posturing, is the real fake.
"John Kerry has never suggested anything other than the fact that he comes from a privileged background," Cabrera said. "But he's also made it clear that that puts a certain responsibility on his shoulders. John Kerry had this background when he went to Vietnam and made the decision to run for public office. Most importantly, despite John Kerry's background, he has been focused on the needs of others."
Cabrera said not only are Bush and Cheney rich, but they've surrounded themselves with people who are almost all super wealthy.
According to personal financial disclosures required by law, Bush's personal wealth is between $8 million and $20 million. Cheney holds assets of between $24 million and $107 million.
All that aside, this much is certain: No matter who wins in November, the person who is sworn in next January will be a rich guy.
© 2004 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive