Presidential Election Coverage: Candy Crowley
October 16, 2012 —
Crowley’s assignments have taken her to all 50 states and around the world. Since taking the anchor chair for State of the Union, Crowley has interviewed top newsmakers including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, as well as former President George W. Bush together with his brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and former Vice President Dick Cheney together with his daughter Liz Cheney.
Crowley was selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates to moderate a 2012 general election debate between President Obama and Gov. Romney. The town hall debate, scheduled for Oct. 16, 2012 in Hempstead, NY, is the first Presidential debate moderated by a woman in two decades.
IWMF: How does it feel to be selected to moderate a Presidential debate?
Crowley: If you had asked me that when I first found out, I would have said ‘I am so excited, I really can’t wait’. And now I will tell you ‘I really can’t wait, I am equally excited and terrified’ because moderators become a part of the story – which you never want to be as a news person. And the whole thing about being the first woman in 20 years adds a layer of pressure on … I am used to the television and I am used to politicians, that doesn’t bother me, but moderating a debate is a huge responsibility.
IWMF: Which aspect of the 2012 presidential election do you find most interesting?
Crowley: So far, what I find most interesting is that this election has defied a certain amount of history. This race is about the economy – and here is a president who by most economic indicators is not doing well. The National Journal did a piece on the president they called “Defying Gravity” because the President’s poll numbers are competitive which is really interesting to me. And on the other side, it’s really interesting that Mitt Romney, who is a very smart guy but has made some political mistakes, also stays so competitive. I can’t actually tell you how I think this election is going to come out and I love that kind of election.
IWMF: Campaign spending on advertising is reaching record numbers, secretly taped fundraiser videos offer voters a candid peek into the candidates’ minds, with the click of a button new can be disseminated by everyone from everywhere, thanks to smart phones and social media platforms. Are presidential debates becoming immaterial to the outcome of elections?
Crowley: I think since we’re having this conversation after the first debate, we can pretty much say ‘No, they are not immaterial’. What we saw going into this debate was that President Obama had not a certain lead but he certainly had a lead worth noting, not just in the national polls but in the battleground states as well. And now the numbers between the candidates have tightened up completely. Now you can say that a lot of things might have contributed to this but I think you can argue that the debates have made a difference in how people view the candidates. And anytime you make a difference in how people view the candidates, you have changed the election dynamic. I don’t think candidates win or lose because of the debates. They win or lose because of many things, and I certainly think debates can be one of those things.
IWMF: Issues that are of particular interest to women, such as the various aspects of women’s reproductive health, have been playing an increasingly prominent role in this year’s election campaigns – but a lot of women have expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the topic never came up in the Presidential Debate on October 3. Is this controversy a step forward because it turns the spotlight on women’s issues, or is it a step backward because some of the debated opinions are perceived as reactionary?
Crowley: I take a broader view of women’s issues. I would say that in addition to reproductive health, women’s issues include topics such as the education of their children, their own jobs, their benefits that they might get when they retire, college tuition and how they are going to afford that for their kids. I understand that reproduction is a woman’s issue in the sense that we’re the ones reproducing – but having raised sons, to me this is also an issue men should be interested in. I think when we talk about reproductive health, what we are talking about is equality in service for women. The question ‘Are women because of the fact that they are women, getting equality in health care coverage?’, is huge and has certainly been included in the campaign trail debate and I imagine at some point we will see it in the official debates. And I also think we are stepping forward when we talk about issues like these.
IWMF: You are only the second woman to moderate a presidential debate. In your opinion, why have women journalists such a hard time breaking this glass ceiling?
Crowley: I don’t know that breaking glass ceilings is any more difficult for women journalists than for women bankers and women doctors. There are many professions out there that still need progress vis-à-vis women, and journalism is certainly one of them. It takes a long time, it’s an evolution more than a revolution. The revolution starts the evolvement, but it takes years. I think that by and large, we are still looking at a business that, just like many other businesses, is still predominantly male-run. You would be crazy to look back even at my career and not say ‘things have changed for the positive so much’ for women. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t more progress to be had.
Candy Crowley broadcasts State of the Union from the Time Warner Cable Arena during the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Photographer: Edward M. Pio Roda © 2012 Cable News Network.
Suzanne Malveaux and Candy Crowley inside the CNN Grill during the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Photographer: Adam Rose © 2012 Cable News Network.