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Trail Mix 

by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & Mating Call & r & & r & It's never too early to indulge in pointless speculation about who the various presidential candidates might pick to be their running mates. So far, John McCain is the only one who knows he'll need one, and Washington Post columnist George Will is betting it'll be Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who is young (51), not a Beltway insider and who could help deliver Florida's crucial 27 electoral votes.

Who's Bitterest?

A flap erupted when Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama told a crowd of San Francisco campaign donors that some people in Pennsylvania are "bitter" about their economic situation, leading them to vote according to identity issues like guns and God, instead of voting for candidates who best represent their economic interests. Both Hillary Clinton and John McCain pounced, saying Obama is too elitist and aloof from working class citizens.

So who among these three really is the most aloof from the working class? According to Money magazine, Obama's net worth was $1.3 million as of the end of 2006 (as are all figures listed here). His wife Michelle had a good, six-figure job (she has since left) and he had royalties from two books -- pretty good money. But according to the same analysis, both McCain and Clinton are light years ahead of him. Thanks to her husband's booming speaking business, and their books, Clinton's net worth was pegged at $35 million by Money. But McCain takes the cake, topping the $40 million mark. McCain has his salary, his Navy pension and three books, but like Clinton it's his spouse who really put him over the top. The only child of a beer delivery mogul, Cindy McCain's family fortune is a big part of McCain's picture (even though a lot of their money is tied up in Arizona real estate, which has been losing value of late).

Finally, consider this: McCain's $40 million is only good enough to land him at No. 8 on the list of richest U.S. Senators. No. 1 on the list is John Kerry, whose family (including wife Teresa Heinz of ketchup fame and his own ancestors from the Forbes clan) is worth somewhere north of a half-billion. George W. Bush is estimated to be worth around $20 million, but in politics today, he's just getting started.
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