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A president without a college degree? Wisconsin governor will test it
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On paper, Republicans' best presidential candidate for 2016 would seem to be the sitting governor of Wisconsin, except for one possible problem: He never graduated from college. - photo by Eric Schulzke
On paper, Republicans' best presidential candidate for 2016 would seem to be the sitting governor of Wisconsin, except for one possible problem: He never graduated from college.

Walker won statewide gubernatorial elections in the swing state three times in four years, most recently winning his second term this past fall with over 52 percent, The New York Times reported. Walker's three wins include a recall election sandwiched between his first- and second-term races.

With the Republican presidential landscape notoriously tight, with few states to spare in most scenarios, Walker's apparent capacity to put the historically blue Badger State in play should make him an attractive candidate.

Does the fact that he never finished college present a significant barrier?

"I say I'm like the majority of people in America," Walker told Hugh Hewitt on his radio show earlier this month. "I'm someone who went to college, had the opportunity in my senior year to go and take a job full-time, which was not the only reason I went to college, but one of the biggest reasons was to get a job. And the American Red Cross offered me a job my senior year, and I took it, thinking someday, maybe, Id go back."

"Walker's right," notes the Washington Post. "Most Americans haven't completed college. Data from the Census Bureau put the percentage of adults over the age of 25 that have finished college at 31.7 percent in 2013 up significantly since the 1960s, but still indicating that two-thirds of Americans don't own that expensive bit of paper."

On one level, the lack of a college degree actually has cachet. The list of prominent businessmen and entrepreneurs without a college degree includes Apple's Steve Jobs, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, cable mogul Ted Turner, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, to name a few.

The aforementioned list would seem to give the lie to any notion that a college dropout can't manage a large organization, such as the state of Wisconsin. Nor is there much evidence that holding an advanced degree from Harvard or Yale, like our last two presidents, makes one a brilliant leader or manager.

However, the electorate may feel otherwise. If Walker does run and win, it will be the first time since Harry Truman in 1946 that a president without a college degree has been elected. And Truman's win carries an asterisk, in any case. Truman was selected by Franklin D. Roosevelt as vice president in 1944 and never ran for president independently before holding the office after FDR's death.

The last president to win the office independently without already holding the office via the death of a sitting president was Grover Cleveland, first elected in 1885, Rasmussen College notes on its website.
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