Candy Crowley in Cincinnati: Lack of trust in Washington adds up to compromise-challenged politics

CINCINNATI - As CNN political chief correspondent, Candy Crowley has unique access to Washington newsmakers. The host of "State of the Union," brought her insights to the Tri-State Thursday for the Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati's  21st Annual National Speaker Forum.

The woman who moderated the second presidential debate in 2012 , spoke on the topic of “The White House vs. Capitol Hill." Crowley focused on the political tension between the Democrats and the Republicans in Washington and how difficult it is for both parties to come to a compromise.

“A politician that changes his mind or is seen to compromise these days is generally punished in the polls,” Crowley said. “If you do not trust each other, you can’t compromise."

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, both Republicans, are two big names in Washington who are known for taking hard lines on issues.

“The joke in Washington is nobody can agree on anything, they’re all in each other’s faces and they’re saying horrible things to each other and that’s just the Republicans," Crowley said. “So there’s much in our Capitol Hill at this point, I think it’s because the stakes are enormously high.”

Crowley said lawmakers feel no need to compromise.

“They think they're doing something for the country. Their part of the country sent them with a set of values, whether it is a Republican district or a Democratic district. So you have this situation where there’s no real end to this for anyone to compromise and that’s how it’s become a dirty word.”

Voters to blame?

Crowley recalled Boehner and former president Bill Clinton and how they both wanted to raise money for the flight 93 memorial.

“(Bill Clinton) was talking about raising funds and how important it was and he said, ‘Since I’m no longer in office, I can do unpopular things,’ meaning joining hands with a Republican. Who makes that unpopular? Voters make that unpopular."

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of Americans admire politicians who refused to compromise.

“We group with people who are of like mind. We are in neighborhoods with people who are of like income, we watch things that don’t make us uncomfortable,” said Crowley. “We listen to fill a fill analysis that mirrors back how we view it.

Other factors undermine compromise, progress

Crowley said redistricting doesn't help matters.

“You have not just a country that’s divided, you have a system in place that in fact kind of ensures that it will stay that way,” Crowley said.

A divided Congress is not the only reason why it is extremely difficult for the House of Representatives and the Senate to compromise: The 24-hour news cycle is may play a role, Crowley said.

She interviewed Lee Hamilton, former congressman of Indiana, about hypocrisy and politics. She asked if he thought if everybody in politics is a hypocrite.

“The way he looked me, I could tell that he thought, ‘Oh my God what’s she got? That’s where this’s going? What’s she got on me?’ and he looked at me and he said, ‘I’m sure you can go back and cite any number of statements that seem hypocritical, but if I don’t know what they are, I can’t comment.’ And I said, ‘I don’t. I seriously don’t.’"

Crowley said just one interview can make a politician uncertain about what to say to the reporter.

“That feeling that there is a trap door, that sort of 'gotcha' kind of question, I think has also scared away politicians from actually opening up and talking to us about what they really think and where they think there might be compromise,” Crowley said.

She added a lot of what is being said in the 24-hour news cycle and on blogs, “is so harsh and politically incorrect."

Audience member: Crowley "refreshing"

Funds from the annual speaker forum support the civic programs of Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati. Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church hosted the event, which drew more than 350 people.

"It sounds like everyone’s been voting down the party line quite a bit, which is why of course no one wants to compromise because there’s no one who will compromise who’s left,” Melissa Rowland, a member of Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati who attended the event. “It’s all or nothing and the best way to move forward is to find a compromise and listen.”

One attendee said having a respected journalist like Crowley visit Cincinnati is important.

“I think any chance that we can get people to come to Ohio and present what’s going on in Washington, in a non-partisan way--you couldn't tell if she was a Democrat or a Republican,” said Richard Packert, a history teacher. “I think what’s so refreshing to her speeches about politics that aren't so party-driven. She gave a very middle of the road, very informative, but yet entertaining speech.”

WATCH: "Candy Crowley Reins In Obama, Romney"

Connect with the Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati:

  • Website
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    • 751.0100


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