Obama Touts His Middle-Class Experience

The President tells Kiplinger that his working-class upbringing differs from the GOP candidates.

At the White House Personal Finance Online summit on April 4, Kiplinger asked President Obama to respond to Mitt Romney's remarks the day before that, after his term in the White House, the President was out of touch with the personal finances of ordinary Americans. Here's how Obama responded:

"I went to law school and much of my college on scholarships. So did my wife. We were still paying off our student debt nine years after I had graduated from law school.

"Our first home was a modest condo, and I remember scraping together the down payment to purchase it and comparing interest rates. When Michelle and I first met, the car I was driving I think I bought for $500, and it had a big rust spot that allowed you to see the road on the passenger’s side, so I knew that my wife wasn’t marrying me for my money.

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"We had credit card debt that was tough to pay off. We had to start a college savings fund, even when times were tight. Our personal finances, not having to worry about bills at the end of the month or gas prices or what have you, really weren’t stable until fairly recently.

"So in that sense I would say Michelle and I have had a quintessentially middle-class upbringing, or working-class upbringing, and middle-class experience. And I will just say, I suspect that is a contrast to some of the presidential candidates who are out there. So in terms of who’s in touch and who is not with what ordinary folks are going through day to day, I have no problem with people making that comparison."

(Image credit: This photograph is provided by THE WHITE HOUSE as a courtesy and may be printed by the subject(s) in the photograph for personal use only. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and)
Douglas Harbrecht
New Media Director, Kiplinger.com
Harbrecht joined Kiplinger in March 2006 from BusinessWeek.com, where he served as senior and executive editor. Prior to that, he worked in the Washington bureau of the magazine, now BloombergBusinessweek, covering policy, politics and economics. He holds a BA degree from Binghamton University and an MA in journalism from the University of Missouri. He was 1998 President of the National Press Club and a 2010 Kiplinger fellow in social media study at Ohio State University.