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Obama stresses his "middle class experience"

April 9, 2012: 6:00 AM ET

I'm just like you.

After being accused of being "out of touch" by his leading Republican rival last week, President Obama trotted out his "middle class experiences" for journalists.

The president said he went through much of college and law school on scholarship, as did his wife, Michelle. Still, they had to take out student loans that they were paying off nine years later. (The couple had $125,000 in debt when they graduated Harvard Law School in 1991, which took them a decade to get rid of.)

When he and Michelle met, the future president was driving a $500 car with a rust spot that was so big you could see the road through it.

"I knew my wife wasn't marrying me for my money," he joked to online journalists gathered at the White House.

They had to scrape together the down payment on their first home -- "a modest condo." They also had credit card debt, which they found tough to pay off, and had to start college savings funds for their two daughters even when times were tight.

"Our personal finances -- not having to worry about bills to pay every month and gas prices -- really weren't stable until fairly recently," he said.

"Michelle and I had a quintessentially working class upbringing and a middle class experience," Obama continued. "That is a contrast some of the presidential candidates who are out there."

Of course, the president isn't driving around an old clunker anymore. In 2010, the First Couple earned $1.7 million. They are worth between $2.8 to $11.8 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Still, that could be considered middle class when compared to Mitt Romney, the leading GOP candidate who accused him of being out of touch. The former CEO of Bain Capital is worth between $85 to $264 million.

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About This Author
Tami Luhby
Tami Luhby
Senior writer, CNNMoney

Tami Luhby is a senior writer at CNNMoney and covers income inequality, state fiscal problems, unemployment, housing policy and other economic issues. Luhby previously covered personal finance for Newsday and banking for Crain's New York Business.

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