Harvard education may hurt Romney in 2012, expert says

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Does an elite education help or hinder a presidential candidate?

At least one expert says GOP frontrunner and Harvard-educated Mitt Romney may have a harder time in 2012 because there is an anti-elitist element in the Tea Party.

Romney attended Stanford and has two degrees from Harvard. Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman attended the University of Pennsylvania.

U.S. presidents without an "elite" education
  • Ronald Reagan: Eureka College
  • Warren Harding: Ohio Central
  • Harry Truman: did not graduate from college

In contrast, tea party darling Michelle Bachmann has a degree from Winona State and has a reputation of talking to the people.

Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University, tells the Deseret News many in the Tea Party perceive elite universities as looking down on their brand of conservativism.

He says the fact that Bachmann incorrectly stated that "the shot heard round the world" happened in New Hampshire instead of Massachusetts may even work for her in the future.

He says she may be better off for her more "common" education in the long-run.

But others say Romney and Huntsman can overcome any negativism about elite education.

Joseph Lowndes, an associate professor of political science from the University of Oregon, told the paper, "It's not so much whether they come from these backgrounds of education and wealth — it's more about how candidates present themselves to the populous."

The paper said in the past two decades alone, every U.S. president has graduated with a degree from Harvard, Yale or Columbia.

Written with contributions from Andrew Adams.

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