It is an oft-heard tale, the influence of academia--of Harvard--on Washington. Presidents and senators puzzling over difficult policy questions will call on the university's leading economists or political scientists. Candidates trying to pull off a win in November will gather a kitchen cabinet of trusted Harvard experts.

This election year, several Harvard professors and lecturers play important roles in the campaigns of all three major candidates.

Still, Dillon Professor of International Affairs Joseph S. Nye Jr.-- a man accused of building up thousands of frequent flyer miles on the Cambridge--Washington shuttle--cautions against assigning too much importance to the influence of Harvard, either at present or in the past.

"There's a tendency to over-exaggerate or over-dramatize" the University's role, Nye says. "I don't think Harvard as a whole matters."

But Nye admits to being at least informally involved in the 1992 contest. The international relations expert said he has sent a few memoranda to the Clinton campaign.


Nye's involvement is minor compared with Kennedy School Lecturer Robert B. Reich's efforts for the Clinton campaign.

Reich has been a friend of the Democratic nominee since both were Rhodes scholars at Oxford University.

Reich, author of The Work of Nations, is widely credited for developing much of Clinton's economic plan. In the days prior to the New Hampshire primary, Reich stumped for his candidate, mostly trying to convince the press corps that Clinton's economic proposals would be the most successful at lifting the financially troubled Granite State--and the nation--out of the recession.

Although no single Harvard scholar probably has as much of an impact on the Republican side as Reich has on the Democratic, in sheer numbers, Harvard has more links to the Bush administration According to Institute of Politics Director Charles T. Royer, several Kennedy School professors get regular calls from administration officials.

Roger B. Porter, formerly a Kennedy School professor, now works on domestic policy issues in the Bush administration. And spring IOP Fellow John Ellis, in addition to authoring a rejected plan for media election coverage, frequently shares ideas with Roger Ailes, formerly a key campaign official for Ellis uncle, George Bush. Ellis says that while Ailes is not on the Republican payroll, he enjoys sort of a "senior eminence" in the campaign.

And other bush administrators, including budget director Richard G. Darman '64, have attended the University and often return for advice and consultation. "There are people like Darman and others who are in and out of here and working in the administration," Royer says.

Harvard has had other effects on the political scene this year. The corner stone of the machine that will likely run the upstart campaign of Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot came together at Harvard.

Thomas W. Luce III, a longtime Perot associate and former Republican Texas Gubernatorial candidate, will probably play the role of campaign manager for Perot, who has not yet officially announced his candidacy. Luce was an IOP fellow in the fall of 1990 when he met James Squires, them a fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Barone Center for Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Kennedy School. Luce asked Squires to come on board as Perot's press spokesperson.

But while political connections still exist, most Harvard affiliates say the association is not as strong today as it once was.

During World War II, President James Bryant Conant '14 spent so much time in Washington that he was forced to promote his dean of the Faculty to provost and put his in charge of the day-to day operations of the University.