Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Candy Crowley at Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College

Candy Crowley spoke at the Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College Tuesday morning. She is CNN's Chief Political Correspondent and anchor of their Sunday morning talk show, State of the Union.

She spoke about the presidential election and what the candidates are doing as we get closer to election day. She said she lives in Maryland and although it's not a swing state, Virginia is, and they're seeing the ads geared toward that state. She said watching the ads that, "You would think males are an endangered species because all the ads are about women." The reason, of course, is that women tend to vote to more.

Her comments were really balanced as she spoke about both campaigns and what they were concerned about at this stage. She talked quite a bit about polling and how it's just a snapshot of today. She said she uses polls to see general trends.

She also talked about why certain stories get play and others don't. She used Romney's comment about the 47% and how that fed into an existing storyline that was already in the zeitgeist. The trick for candidates, it seems, is to lay out those storyline potentials long before something like that happens that feeds into them.

Of course, timing is also important. She mentioned a gaffe Obama made, but it was in March, and how something in September is harder to overcome by the time of the election. She said Romney's camp is concerned about not having time to recover from various things and Obama's camp is concerned that he's polling under 50% sometimes and that's not good for an incumbent. She said at this point, Romney has to run a near-perfect campaign if the polls are correct because they give the edge to the President.

She said this is a "base election," meaning it will hinge on who gets their base out to vote. She said she has thought for years that there are no undecided voters. She said, "There are voters who aren't paying attention, and there are voters who've decided they're not going to vote." But she said a conversation with her son convinced her otherwise, and that some people are actually undecided, because he is. But she said it's a small percentage of people.

What it comes down to are the 4.5 hours of the debates. She will host the one on October 16, the first woman to do so in more than 20 years. She said she's getting more than 100 emails a day of people suggesting questions

She said there's always an "x-factor" in who people decide to vote for, things we can't determine exactly. She noted that 40% of people are saying they're not satisfied with their choice, which means things could change. She said for Obama part of the x-factor may be, "The pull of history in some of those undecideds," because he is the first African-American president.

Looking ahead to four years, she comments on both parties and potential candidates.

How partisan things are is related to redistricting, as has been said by multiple people. She pointed out that more than half the house was elected by a 60% majority or more because redistricting has made districts more of whichever way they leaned.

She said if Romney loses there will be a real fight in the Republican party between the idea of the tea party and that we need a "real" conservative, versus those who believe we need to widen the tent and can't remain a party of largely white people in a country where there's a minority majority. She said it will be a party trying to figure out its heart and soul.

For the democrats she said, "Joe Biden still dreams of being president." She said she believed what Hillary had been saying about not planning to run in four years but just recently she saw her speaking at a Clinton Global Initiative Event about collecting taxes on a equitable level and the expression on her face made Crowley think Hillary might be considering it.

It's that surprise that Crowley says she loves about politics. You never know what the candidates or the voters are going to do. She ended the lecture by telling the audience to remember that, "The country is always stronger than the people who run it."

At the luncheon following she said it was helpful to her to hear what questions people had - what people in Kansas wanted to know about the election.

The questions were non-partisan (I was so glad!) and included:
  • voter fraud
  • the amount spent on elections (she said for people to always look at who is giving money for any ad you see and what their agenda is)
  • the Mormon question (we don't know - elections are always multi-determined)
  • how she prepped for the debates and how much leeway she has (she said she asks a question 3 different ways generally and then says something like, "so you're not going to answer" and lets it go so she doesn't waste all her time)
  • how important are spouses (she said people vote for the top of the ticket)
  • who runs polls and who is asked
  • how has social media affected elections (she recommended, and, and encouraged people to consider where information is coming from)

She was incredibly warm and pleasant. She mentioned that when she worked at the AP, the motto was, "Get it first, but first get it right." That's how journalism is supposed to work. It was a wonderful, interesting morning!

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