On Road to White House, an Ec 10 Stop

Mankiw signs on as economic adviser to Mass. Republican governor

More than a year before Iowa and New Hampshire Republicans vote on their 2008 presidential pick, Governor Mitt Romney has already won the Ec 10 primary. N. Gregory Mankiw, the Beren professor of economics who heads Harvard’s introductory course on the subject, has joined Romney’s Commonwealth Political Action Committee, which is likely to serve as a launchpad for the outgoing governor’s White House bid.

Mankiw—who briefly advised Senator John McCain in his 2000 White House run and served as chair of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2003 to 2005—isn’t the only high profile economist on Romney’s team with Harvard ties.

R. Glenn Hubbard, a former resident tutor in Dunster House who holds a doctorate from Harvard, also signed onto the governor’s effort Wednesday. Hubbard chaired Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2001 to 2003, before Mankiw held the post. He is now the dean of Columbia’s Graduate Business School.

Cesar Conda, who was an adviser to the 1996 Dole-Kemp campaign and counseled Vice President Dick Cheney on economics, also joined Romney’s committee.

“Greg, Glenn and Cesar share my views of low taxes and limited government and together we will work to help the Republican Party return to those conservative principles,” Romney said in a statement posted on his organization’s Web site.

Mankiw said that he met Romney only briefly several years ago but was “impressed by his intellect, open-mindedness, and overall economic philosophy.”

“I was honored when he asked me to serve in a more formal advisory capacity. My role will be that of an outside adviser,” wrote Mankiw, stressing that he does not want to be involved in the political process. “Economists advise, political leaders choose.”

The alliance between Romney and Mankiw contrasts with the governor’s sharp attacks against his alma mater this past summer. Romney earned degrees in law and business from Harvard in 1974, but in the last few months, he has ripped into the University for hosting an Iranian leader and for using human embryos in stem-cell research.

When Harvard scientists said they would create human embryos for use in stem-cell studies, Romney blasted the plan as “Orwellian in scope.” And when Harvard’s Kennedy School invited former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami to speak there Sept. 10, Romney called that move “a disgrace to the memory of all Americans who have lost their lives at the hands of extremists.”

THE NOT-SO-INVISIBLE HAND

With Mankiw, Romney has attached himself to one of the most visible Faculty figures on campus—a professor whose Ec 10 course, with 949 students, is the largest fall semester class at the College. Mankiw is also the faculty adviser to the Harvard Republican Club and runs a blog geared toward his current and former students.

David W. Johnson, head section leader for Ec 10, noted that Mankiw’s extensive Washington experience will make him a much more effective advisor.

“He’s open-minded, energetic, empathetic, and always interested in new advances in economic theory and practice,” Johnson said. “Fresh from two years in Washington, moreover, he’s now also a seasoned veteran in offering effective economic policy advice.”

Case studies of Mankiw’s experience in Washington has also been documented in the newest edition of his textbook, pages 31-2: “Mr. Mankiw Goes to Washington.”