US Elections

The will be held on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016  ♦  2016 Presidential Candidates

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  Republican Convention
    Chris Christie
    Rick Santorum
    Ann Romney
    Ted Cruz
    Mike Huckabee
    Condoleezza Rice
    Paul Ryan
    Clint Eastwood
    Jeb Bush
    Marco Rubio
    Mitt Romney
  Democratic Convention
    Debbie Wasserman Schultz
    Rahm Emmanuel
    Julian Castro
    Michelle Obama
    Sandra Fluke
    Elizabeth Warren
    Bill Clinton
    Caroline Kennedy
    John Kerry
    Jill Biden
    Joe Biden
    Barack Obama


There are no educational requirements determining the eligibility of a president in the Constitution. However, the roles and responsibilities of the office demand a certain level of intelligence and mental aptitude that is most easily established through academic accomplishments.

Nevertheless, seven of our presidents did not attend college. In fact, Abraham Lincoln only had a year's worth of formal education; Andrew Johnson probably had even less, while Grover Cleveland only had five years. Harry Truman, the country's 33rd president (1945-1953), was the last U.S. president without a college degree - and the only one in the past 119 years. The complexity and sophistication of modern governance make it unlikely though for a non-graduate to ever hold the office of president again.

A question that is frequently asked is, who was our smartest ever president? A tricky question, since we have absolutely no way of conclusively determining this. However, based on observations, records and citations, we think it would be fair to say that honor belongs to our third president, Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809).

The multi-lingual polymath is reputed to be ferociously intelligent, with an expert grasp on a wide range of subjects, including, but not limited to, mathematics, philosophy, archaeology, paleontology, history and architecture. On April 29, 1962, the White House organized a dinner in the State Dining Room to honor a visiting group of 49 Nobel laureates. President John Kennedy was quoted as saying then,

"I want to tell you how welcome you are to the White House. I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. Someone once said that Thomas Jefferson was a gentleman of 32 who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, and dance the minuet."

Four more presidents deserve a mention, even if they do not reach the heights of Jefferson. First off, our second president, John Adams (1797-1801). Like Jefferson, he was also a multilingual polymath with the control of several languages, and if it wasn't for Jefferson, he would probably be on top of the list. Among the Founding Fathers (who were all men of exceptional qualities), Adams, alongside Benjamin Franklin, were reputedly the only ones capable of matching the sheer intellect of Jefferson.

Second on the list is our 28th president, Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921). The avid golfer learned German for the sole purpose of reading Heinrich Marquardsen's Handbuch des Oeffentlichen Rechts der Gegenwart (Contemporary Handbook of Public Law), to aid him in writing his doctoral dissertation ("Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics")! Wilson, who also practiced law, was a noted scholar and served as Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Economy at Princeton and Professor of History at Wesleyan University and Bryn Mawr College.

Next on the list is our 37th president, Richard Nixon (1969-1974). The former lawyer and Navy lieutenant never truly fulfilled his potential at the highest stage. What we do know is, Nixon has a habit of being the top student at every stage of his education, including at the prestigious and highly competitive Duke University School of Law. He was also a tremendous debater, and won numerous awards during his student days. He brought that talent with him to Washington, and made full use of it in his ascent to the presidency. At the age of 15, while still at Fullerton High School, Nixon scored an incredible 143 in an IQ test.

Last on the list is our saxophone playing 42nd president, Bill Clinton (1993-2001). With degrees from Georgetown and Yale, whiz kid Clinton was also a prestigious Rhodes Scholar at England's Oxford University. The Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas served as the state's Attorney General at the tender age of 30, before becoming Governor two years later. Clinton is known to have a very strong grasp on almost every subject under the sun, and is a voracious reader. However, like most highly intelligent people, Clinton often falls into the familiar trap of over thinking a subject.

Bob Woodward, in his 1994 book, The Agenda, recounted a comment made by his former aide, George Stephanopoulos.

"Clinton was more than capable of seeing and feeling different things at different times. This was the intellectual, ruminative side of his personality. Given Clinton's predisposition for deliberation, his inclination to listen sympathetically, at times too sympathetically, Stephanopoulos questioned whether Clinton too often pushed debate to the point of chaos. The process seemed confused. Stephanopoulos concluded that the staff had to stifle this tendency of Clinton's, so cleaner, clearer, faster decisions would be made."

Presidents with No College Education

Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, Harry Truman

College/University Dropouts

William McKinley, George Washington, William Henry Harrison

College Degree

Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Pierce, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, John Tyler, James Buchanan, Chester A. Arthur, Warren G. Harding, Theodore Roosevelt, James A. Garfield, Rutherford B. Hayes, Ronald Reagan

University Degree

James Madison, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, James K. Polk, Benjamin Harrison, William Taft, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama

Masters Degree

George W. Bush (MBA)


Woodrow Wilson

West Point

Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight Eisenhower

How does the current list of candidates stack up against the giants from our past?

Current President of the United States

Barack Obama

Presidential Candidate Barack Obama
Obama Education

Obama began his formal education at the Noelani Elementary School in Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, in
1966. After the move with his mother to Indonesia in 1967, his stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, enrolled
him in SD Fransiscus Asisi (St. Francis of Asisi), a Catholic primary school under the auspices of
the St. Francis of Asisi Church in Jakarta. He spent three years there before being transferred to
the government-run Menteng State Elementary School in 1970 for his darjah empat dan lima (fourth and
fifth grade). 

Upon returning to Hawaii in 1971, his grandparents sent him to the exclusive Punahou School in Honululu, which was also the biggest private school in the country at the time. Obama was a popular student there, participating in various extra-curricular activities whilst maintaining respectable grades. The pinnacle of his achievement at Punahou was playing for the school basketball team that finished as State Champions in 1979. He would recount later in his book, Dreams From My Father, how the emerging questions about his identity, his self, his heritage, pushed him towards alcohol, drugs and parties, and for a brief period of time, threatened to extinguish his potential.
Dreams From My Father, page 54-55

“Junkie. Pothead. That’s where I’d been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man. Except the highs hadn’t been about that, me trying to prove what a down brother I was. Not by then, anyway. I got high for just the opposite effect, something that could push questions of who I was out of my mind, something that could flatten out the landscape of my heart, blur the edges of my memory. I had discovered that it didn’t make any difference whether you smoked reefer in the white classmate’s sparkling new van, or in the dorm room of some brother you’d met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids who had dropped out of school and now spent most of their time looking for an excuse to brawl…”

“It was at the start of my senior year in high school; she was back in Hawaii, her field work completed, and one day she had marched into my room, wanting to know the details of Pablo’s arrest. I had given her a reassuring smile and patted her hand and told her not to worry, I wouldn’t do anything stupid. It was usually an effective tactic, another one of those tricks I had learned: People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves…”

“Except my mother hadn’t looked satisfied. She had just sat there, studying my eyes, her face as grim as a hearse. “Don’t you think you’re being a little casual about your future?” she said. “What do you mean?” “You know exactly what I mean. One of your friends was just arrested for drug possession. Your grades are slipping. You haven’t even started on your college applications. Whenever I try to talk to you about it you act like I’m just this great big bother.”
I didn’t need to hear all this. It wasn’t like I was flunking out. I started to tell her how I’d been thinking about maybe not going away for college, how I could stay in Hawaii and take some classes and work part-time. She cut me off before I could finish. I could get into any school in the country, she said, if I just put in a little effort. “Remember what that’s like? Effort? Damn it, Bar, you can’t just sit around like some good-time Charlie, waiting for luck to see you through…”
Obama was at Punahou for a total of eight years until his graduation in 1979. He moved to Eagle Rock in Los Angeles a couple of months later after his application to Occidental College, one of the most highly regarded liberal arts colleges in the country, was accepted. It was his two years at Occidental that proved to be the catalyst of his birth into the world of politics.

The culture of student activism there drew out the simmering sense of alienation that has accompanied Obama throughout his young adult life. It was here also that the idea of public service, a notion long espoused by his mother, began to take shape within him. The quiet junior from Haines Hall gradually participated in a number of initiatives organized by the students. The Iranian hostage crisis, the apartheid policy of South Africa and the nation’s economic upheavals all proved to resonate deeply with Obama. In his sophomore year, on Feb. 18, 1981, Obama made his first public speech, calling for the trustees of the college to divest from South Africa.
August 25, 2008, From the Boston Globe, by Scott Helman

However, he felt a need to experience something bigger, and in the summer of 1981, Obama engineered a transfer to Columbia University of New York. He graduated from Columbia in 1983 with a BA in Political Science, majoring in International Relations. After graduation, Obama worked as a financial writer for over a year at Business International Corporation, a New York-based financial consulting firm.

After almost four years studying and working in New York, Obama moved to Chicago in 1985. The seeds that his mother had planted in him finally bloomed, and after an exhaustive job hunt, Obama decided to accept the position of Director for the Developing Communities Project in Roseland and Altgeld Gardens in Chicago’s South Side.
May 25, 2008, Barack Obama’s speech at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut

“… by the time I graduated from college, I was possessed with a crazy idea — that I would work at a grassroots level to bring about change. I wrote letters to every organization in the country I could think of. And one day, a small group of churches on the South Side of Chicago offered me a job to come work as a community organizer in neighborhoods that had been devastated by steel plant closings.

My mother and grandparents wanted me to go to law school. My friends were applying to jobs on Wall Street. Meanwhile, this organization offered me $12,000 a year plus $2,000 for an old, beat-up car. And I said yes. Now, I didn’t know a soul in Chicago, and I wasn’t sure what this community organizing business was all about. I had always been inspired by stories of the Civil Rights Movement and JFK’s call to service, but when I got to the South Side, there were no marches, and no soaring speeches. In the shadow of an empty steel plant, there were just a lot of folks who were struggling. And we didn’t get very far at first.

I still remember one of the very first meetings we put together to discuss gang violence with a group of community leaders. We waited and waited for people to show up, and finally, a group of older people walked into the hall. And they sat down. And a little old lady raised her hand and asked, “Is this where the bingo game is?”
By his third year there, Obama realized that enabling change in such a disadvantaged community would necessitate a higher level of involvement from both the private and public sector. To better equip himself to meet these challenges, as well as fulfilling his mother’s wish, he applied to Harvard Law School in Massachusetts. In 1988, Obama resigned from his job in Chicago after being accepted into Harvard Law. Armed with experience and driven by desire, he became a star student there. He achieved the distinction of becoming the first ever black Editor and subsequently, President, of the Harvard Law Review, which is the most respected and widely cited student law review in the country. He obtained his Juris Doctor in 1991, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

More on Barack Obama


Pro-life Activist

Randall Terry

Presidential Candidate Randall Terry
Terry Education

•1981: Elim Bible Institute, Lima, New York
•1995: Whitfield College School of Religion (B.A.)
•2006: Empire State College, State University of New York (Communications Concentration)

More on Randall Terry

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