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Business Officer Magazine

Crowley’s Candids

Admitting that her “candidates to watch” in the last presidential election were Chris Christie and Robert McDonnell, Candy Crowley forged ahead with commentary on the nation’s complex issues and the candidates who think they can solve them.

By Carole Schweitzer

In her Monday general session keynote, Candy Crowley began by saying: "Everyone asks about Congress. What is wrong with those people? We all want to know." The award-winning journalist and former chief political correspondent for CNN admitted, "The truth is that the answer tends to be 'us.' While this is perhaps the worst and nastiest Congress anyone can remember, 96 percent of those up for re-election were voted back to Congress."

The parts are better than the whole, explained Crowley. "Most come with good intentions and think they can make a difference. But, the system is no longer built for compromise. And you can expect no major movement in legislation, since the 2016 election campaign is already underway."

And speaking of the campaign, Crowley went on to briefly describe a few of the major candidates, in what she called "my snapshot of time."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT): "He's taking a role in making Hillary Clinton speak out on things she does not want to talk about. What likely scares Hillary the most is that she can't walk away from Barack Obama. Whether he is a one-off or a powerhouse of Democratic strength, Hillary is running against history [as a woman], not necessarily other Democratic candidates."

Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton: "She needs the same numbers as Obama pulled for minority and youth turnout. But she's rusty on the campaign trail; she seems to be behind plexiglass. You can see and hear her, but you still don't know who she is."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): "People are concerned about his newness on the scene, which they also claimed about Barack Obama when he started campaigning. If I had to say this right now, I'd say that it will be Jeb Bush against Hillary Clinton."

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush: "He's a fairly good campaigner. I'd say, 'Tell us who you are and what you'll do.'"

CAROLE SCHWEITZER is editor in chief of Business Officer.

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On-Stage Q & A

To delve deeper into Crowley's political insights, John Walda, NACUBO president and CEO, asked a few more questions.

Walda: When you talk about gerrymandering, how does redistricting compare to the ability of people with wealth to influence elections?

Crowley: Truthfully, the impact of super PACS [political action committees] and Citizens United is absolutely astonishing. And the huge amounts of money supply the ability to prolong campaigns.

Walda: As far as higher education goes, it's not exactly a hot topic among the candidates, but the concepts of free community college, growing student debt, and the value of higher education are being discussed. What kind of impact might we see as a result of the presidential election?

Crowley: I think there is more resonance about the cost of a degree and dismay over the trillion-dollar plus amount of student debt. Parents are taking more out of their own pockets for their children's college costs.

Walda: What should the chief business officer be telling his or her legislators?

Crowley: Jobs, jobs, jobs! It's always about the community the legislator represents, so it's is always about the economy. Republicans talk about providing opportunity. Democrats talk about the wealth gap and how constituents can't afford to go to college. With the highest unemployment [or underemployment] rate in decades for college graduates, the message needs to be what the university can do to prepare these kids for finding work. Explain to your legislators what it is that you need to ensure that happens. You want your constituents to work—talk about that end and how higher education can make that happen.

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