WASHINGTON Days after he cracked that being rich in the U.S. meant earning at least $5 million a year, Republican presidential candidate John McCain acknowledged that he wasn't sure how many houses he and his wealthy wife actually own.
"I think I'll have my staff get to you," McCain responded to a question posed by Politico, according to a story Thursday on the publication's Web site. "It's condominiums where I'll have them get to you."
Later, the McCain campaign told Politico that McCain and his wife, Cindy, have at least four in three states, Arizona, California and Virginia. Newsweek recently estimated the two owned at least seven properties.
On the campaign trail, McCain doesn't refer to his wife's wealth, estimated by some at $100 million and based on her late father's Arizona beer distributorship. McCain's campaign didn't respond immediately to a request for comment Thursday.
Democratic rival Barack Obama's campaign has been trying to make their wealth more widely known to blunt criticism that Obama is an elitist out of touch with ordinary Americans. Obama owns one house, the family home in Chicago, his campaign said.
In the 2004 campaign, Republicans tried to use wealth as a dig against Democratic candidate John Kerry even though President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were multimillionaires themselves. In 2005, Kerry reported a net worth between $165 million and $235 million, most of it controlled by his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.
According to her 2006 tax returns, Cindy McCain had a total income of $6 million. She has not released her 2007 returns, which she files separately from her husband. McCain's tax returns showed a total income of $405,409 in 2007.
In a forum last week with the Rev. Rick Warren, McCain was asked to define the word "rich" and to give a figure. After promoting his tax policies, McCain said: "I think if you are just talking about income, how about $5 million?" The audience laughed, and he added: "But seriously, I don't think you can I don't think seriously that the point is that I'm trying to make here, seriously and I'm sure that comment will be distorted but the point is that we want to keep people's taxes low and increase revenues."Obama, asked the same question at the forum, said those making $250,000 and higher are in the top 3 to 4 percent and "doing well." Obama and his wife, Michelle, reported making $4.2 million in 2007.
Associated Press writers Phil Elliott in Sedona, Ariz., and Ann Sanner in Washington contributed to this report.