Mitt Romney likes to jab President Barack Obama for embodying the values of the Ivy League. “I didn’t learn about the economy just reading about it or hearing about it at the faculty lounge at Harvard,” he said in Illinois on March 18, in a not-so-veiled swipe at Obama.
That slyly placed “just” is Romney’s way of distinguishing himself from his fellow Harvard alum. Like the president, Romney is a graduate of Harvard Law School. Unlike Obama, he also has a second Harvard graduate degree, an MBA. Yet you won’t find the Republican front-runner boasting about his Ivy League pedigree. That would undercut his appeal to Republican voters who already doubt his conservatism and are suspicious of elite institutions. Instead the former Massachusetts governor regularly lacerates his alma mater in campaign speeches, bashing Obama as an ivory tower theorist. It’s a difficult maneuver to pull off. Romney, a son of privilege and a millionaire a couple hundred times over, is the epitome of the Harvard Business School man. He owes his chief credential as a candidate—his career in finance—to the lessons he learned in Cambridge classrooms.