Michigan U.S. Senate candidate Clark Durant, speaking at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., said Thursday that the gap between the rich and poor should grow.
"I think it should be wider," said the Republican candidate, according to the Grand Rapids Press. "Does anybody think Steve Jobs should not be (sic) in the 1 percent? He made life better for the 99 percent of the rest of us. You want to create opportunities for people with their unique gifts," added the former Michigan Board of Education president. He also said Occupy Wall Street protesters should "go find a job."
The Huffington Post's Michael McAuliff and Alexander Eichler reported that income dramatically shifted towards top earners between 1979 and 2007. The top one percent of earners saw their incomes grow by 275 percent while Americans in the bottom fifth of earners saw their incomes increase by less than 20 percent.
Durant is running in a Republican primary that includes former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who lost the 2010 gubernatorial nomination. Hoekstra raised $1 million in the third quarter to Durant's $750,000.
Either candidate would face Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who is running for a third term.
The Huffington Post's Michael McAuliff reported that Democrats think that a Durant nomination could work in their favor because of his tea party support.
UPDATE: Clark Durant's campaign sent out the following statement on his comments late Friday:
Thank you for challenging my statement about 'widening the gap'. I do not believe in widening the income gap between rich and poor, and my life's work in the inner city of Detroit demonstrates that far more than any sound bite. At Calvin College my 'widening the gap' remark, in its context, sought to challenge the students to think outside the box when they hear stock statements that pit one group of people against another. We need a country that embraces all, and rewards innovators, entrepreneurs, job creators, and hard-working people of all sorts. Innovators like Steve Jobs and Henry Ford, a part of the 1%, make life better for us all. But instead of just one, what if we had 100, 1,000, or 10,000 such innovators? And that was my point at Calvin College. I'm for innovation, and a commitment to a rising tide that lifts all boats for all Americans. I believe in the 100%.