The Road to the White House Runs through Harvard Square


The Road to the White House Runs through Harvard Square

A Breakdown of the 2020 Presidential Candidates with Ties to Harvard



Though the 2020 Presidential Election may seem far away, over 450 individuals have already registered with the Federal Election Commission as 2020 presidential candidates. While most of these declared candidates are not exactly household names, at least eighteen of the more realistic individuals have begun campaigns. Of these eighteen, nine have some connection to Harvard.

Harvard and the United States Presidency have had a long and well documented love affair; Harvard has educated more Presidents than any other university, most recently with the Obama presidency. Obama is the eighth Harvard-educated president, with a 1991 degree from Harvard Law School.


The Candidates:

Indisputably, Bill Weld has the strongest ties to Harvard. Bill Weld’s (Weld Hall) ancestor Edmund Weld was a member of Harvard’s class of 1650, and was followed to the college by eighteen more Welds. Bill himself graduated with a 1966 degree in Classics, took a brief leave to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and returned to complete a law degree from HLS in 1970. He is a Republican candidate looking to challenge Trump for the nomination and has vocally criticized Trump in the past. He is the former Governor of Massachusetts and Federal Prosecutor and in 2016 was on the ballot as the libertarian vice-presidential candidate. He seems to have stuck to libertarian ideas in his platform so far, placing emphasis on the importance of free trade and fiscal restraint. He is also in favor of the legalization of marijuana.

Elizabeth Warren, one of the first to declare her candidacy, is a very prominent Democratic Massachusetts senator and is a former professor at HLS, where she taught courses on commercial law, contracts, and bankruptcy. Her work at the law school has clearly informed her campaign, which she is running on a signature platform of protecting the middle class from the interests of big corporations.

Julian Castro, the former Mayor of San Antonio and former Housing Secretary, received his J.D. from HLS in 2000 (alongside his brother, Joaquin Castro). He is running for the Democratic nomination, and is a proponent of “Medicare for All”, universal prekindergarten, and immigration reform. He is also an outspoken supporter of affirmative action, which he credits for his admittance into Stanford as an undergrad.

Peter Buttigieg, the first “millennial” presidential candidate, spent his undergrad years at Harvard (class of ‘04), where he was president of the IOP student advisory committee. He studied History and Literature and was in Leverett House. He would be the first openly gay US president and has built his platform around his identity as a millenial and the call to address issues of climate change and economic opportunity.  

Back in 2008, senator Corey Booker spoke at the HLS Graduation Ceremony. Known for his great speeches, the senator from New Jersey has declared his intent to run for the 2020 democratic nomination, and will likely run on a platform of criminal justice reform, a key issue he has worked on as a senator.

College students around the country rallied behind Bernie Sanders in 2016, but long before then he actually served as an IOP fellow for the 1989 term, while representing Vermont in the House.

Tulsi Gabbard, a 37 year old congresswoman for Hawaii and former member of the Army National Guard, did not attend Harvard but was honored with the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award in 2013 by the IOP at the Kennedy School. Gabbard won the award for her work on behalf on veterans. As a veteran and veterans advocate, she is running on a foreign-policy based platform of opposition to US military intervention overseas.

Unconventional democratic candidate Marianne Williamson, a self-help author, personal friend of Oprah, and activist, was on campus this February, speaking at the Divinity School on “Repentance in Politics” and her signature platform of the payment of reparations for slavery.

Undergraduate Asian-American groups hosted candidate Andrew Yang on campus this February and spoke on “The Asian-American Experience”. He is an economist, and is running on a platform of Universal Basic Income.


While these candidates have varying levels of connection to Harvard and disparate backgrounds, it is quite likely that the next president of the United States has spent at least some time in Cambridge, and that maybe that guy in your gov class who swears he’s going to be President someday actually has a chance, at least of running.

The candidate information in this article can be credited to the New York Times.

Evelyn Gray ‘21 ( is a government concentrator, but not that kind. She is definitely not planning on running for office.