For three decades, the gap between America’s rich and poor has been growing to Gilded Age extremes. It’s an unhealthy development when wealth is concentrated this heavily.

But in Michigan, Clark Durant, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, believes the wealth gap should be … even worse.

In regards to the Occupy Wall Street movement, Durant said the protesters should “go find a job.” In regards to the wealth gap the movement decries, Durant said, “I think it should be wider.”

Keep in mind, Michigan hasn’t exactly had it easy in recent years. Indeed, few states have been hit harder by the economy.

And yet, here’s a GOP candidate actually stating his desire out loud to see the wealth gap widen.

If Durant wins the primary and is on the ballot in 2012, expect to see this quote again.

Update: I received a statement from the Durant campaign, which was rather odd. Whereas the Republican candidate said this week that he thinks the wealth gap should be “wider,” the press release quotes Durant saying, “I do not believe in widening the income gap between rich and poor.”

So, why did he say the opposite to a group of college students? According to the statement, the Senate candidate “sought to challenge the students to think outside the box when they hear stock statements.” There’s nothing wrong with encouraging intellectual rigor, of course, but I’m still not clear on why Durant said he wants a wider class gap and then said the opposite.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.