Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who has criticized President Barack Obama for taking a nine-day vacation at a time of high unemployment, filed for permits to almost quadruple the size of his oceanfront home in La Jolla, California.
The former Massachusetts governor and his wife bought the house three years ago for $12 million. They want to knock down the one-story, 3,009-square-foot home overlooking the Pacific Ocean and replace it with an 11,062-square foot place in its stead, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
Romney says he needs a bigger place to have room for his five sons, their wives and his 16 grandchildren. The Union Tribune said the plans would keep the house’s existing pool and spa.
Romney has fought a reputation as being somewhat out of touch, an impression that will not be enhanced by undertaking a massive renovation while campaigning for president. The super-rich candidate raised eyebrows earlier this month when he told a heckler in Iowa that “Corporations are people, my friend,” and a remark in June to unemployed workers in Florida that he was “also unemployed” fell flat and was jeered by the Democrats.
Critics have seized on the project to scoff at Romney. Jess Durfee, chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Party, used the house project to joke about Romney’s residency. “Let’s hope he hires a contractor that provides union-equivalent wages and helps to stimulate the local economy,” Durfee told the Union Tribune. “He also could register to vote here and help out the Republicans, whose numbers are dwindling.”