tv Conversations w Retiring Members - Rep. Joe Crowley D-NY CSPAN November 25, 2018 3:19am-3:48am EST
conversation with the people. host: where can people find results of your research? guest: you can go to the website hiddentribes.us. it will tell you which of the tribes you belong to. host: daniel yudkin of the more in common group, the co-author >> a look at the impact and populism of identity politics, with political scholars, hosted by the heritage foundation. live coverage begins on c-span. interview with joe crowley of new york, who is retiring at the end of his term. he talks about his life and political career, and the events around 9/11. this is about 30 minutes.
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] to remember the first time you stepped into the u.s. capitol as a member of congress it was the day i was sworn in, i guess, as a member of congress. that day itself was magical. steve: house so? -- how so? rep. crowley: i had busloads of people from new york. my family, my mom and dad, my wife, and it was just an incredible atmosphere. i remember being on the floor, taking the oath of office, raising my right hand, and looking up. i could only get one ticket for the inside for my mom and dad, they were both alive at the time. i gave my mom a ticket and somehow my dad was able to get himself in. just him enter the room,
to the right find the speaker's rostrum, and that was magical. my mom and dad are here to see me sworn in as a member of congress. that was pretty neat. steve: do you remember what they told you when you won? rep. crowley: my dad was, my dad was about responsibility. ath my ferrets knew it was major responsibility. my dad knew it was pretty big. i would describe it as being in the aaa or minor leagues when it comes to elected office or politics. but going to congress was the major leagues. and my dad was very in tune with what that was all about. my mom was more like just very proud that her son went to congress. my dad, as well, but my father more than my mom was very in
tune about what this meant, international relations, it meant supporting the budgets, it meant so much in terms of what you can do for your constituents back home and make life for them better. and my dad was very in tune with that. steve: can you explain how the seat opened up and why you decided to run? rep. crowley: it was 1998. my predecessor decided not to run. i was selected by the committee on vacancies to fill the vacancy and run in his place. i was preparing to get married in october of that year, which we did. coming up on the 20th anniversary october 9. my wife and i have been married 20 years. i think it was something that's dna, in terms of wanting to come to washington. i've been involved in the state legislature on ireland, in particular.
my mom was born in northern ireland. it was something i was always engaged in. it was something i zeroed in early in on. i got on the foreign affairs committee and served there for 20 years. i was a big part of the irish peace process, which continues to this day, something i'm very proud of having a connection with, and being a part of. steve: from your experiences, what has been the hardest part of being in public life? rep. crowley: i think for me, it has been, in more recent years, media and your family. not so much about what they write about me, but what people read about, and how that can be misinterpreted sometimes, and having to explain. i think the bigger role i played in washington, the more focus and attention was placed on me. so i think that was one of the more difficult things, kind of balancing the need to want to protect my family and understanding at the same time -- ai'm a public finger
public figure, and i'm going to be criticized, and how i deal with that. steve: over 20 years, you've cast hundreds and thousands of votes. is there any vote you regret? rep. crowley: no question. the one vote i do regret is the vote to go to war in iraq. i wanted to believe my president. i was old-school at the time. you don't think of george washington, abraham lincoln, theodore roosevelt, john kennedy, and the embodiment of that office. when i'm given information and facts, i'll be there to go along. i wanted to believe the executive and the president. and i was disappointed by that. later, as it turns out, they were wrong. there were no weapons of mass destruction, that iraq wasn't the threat that was laid out to us. i regret that.
steve: what is the lesson for members of congress in the future, if they are faced with the same type of vote, a similar situation? rep. crowley: we have to come to grips with the fact what the truth is, is something you have to be more suspect of, i guess. i don't want to sound too naive, but there was some innocence that was lost after that. coming out of the 9/11 experience, my cousin was killed. i knew many people that were killed in the attack on new york, and it was very personal. and i wanted to do everything i could to make that right, to make that whole as best i could. and that included going after those who made them responsible for it, and those who want to cause on to us again in some way. and i think my advice would be,
you've got to do all the homework and you have to go with your gut, but just don't take for granted what you're being told is absolutely true. steve: what do you remember about that day, your cousin, and what happened? rep. crowley: it was one of the most upsetting days of my life. we all have tragedies happen to us. i was on the 8:30 shuttle at laguardia airport. from takeoff and i got a text. my blackberry at the time was supposed to be off, but it was on. hewas my chief of staff, said, where are you? i said i'm on the plane. he said call me immediately. i called him he said two planes hit the world trade center. and at laguardia airport, you are far enough away from any buildings but you can see the city.
and i could see the smoke coming from the twin towers. i used my phone on the plane. you had plane phones. and i was able to tell fellow passengers something was going on. and then an announcement over the intercom by the pilot that the airways have been shut down. as i got off the plane, you could sense that something a norm is -- enormous had happened. and when i went outside, waiting for me was my brother and my chief of staff. they both showed up at the same time. i got to my car and we saw the first building go down. and then i went home, thinking to myself, i hope my cousins john and mike are both ok. because they are both firemen. i thought my cousin wouldn't be in the buildings because he was battalion chief. they give orders. but it was john. mike was off that day. his last known words were, let
me off here i'm going to try to , make a difference. that was my cousin john. that was a devastating day. those days were just horrible days. steve: what kind of guy was he, your cousin? rep. crowley: he was, at the time of his death he was 42. he was married with two children, big men now themselves. he was a fordham law school graduate. brilliant guy. loved to do a little acting. he was kind of a cross between a little bit of a richard gere look to him. he had a shock of white hair. he was a big guy, 6'3". we played guitar and music together. we taught each other. he and his brother introduced me to bruce springsteen back in the mid-1970's. we talk each other irish music. we were into the beatles. they were a big part of his
life, and the stones, and he turned them on to me. he was three years older than i was, but he was like a big brother. and his accomplishments, i think he was one of the youngest telling chiefs in the history of the fdny. and i think he probably would have been the head of the department some day. he loved being a fireman. his family came from a family of firefighters. there is probably still not a day goes by i don't think of johnny, who and what he would be today. steve: you mentioned to bruce springsteen. on primary night in june, you prayed -- in june, you played a little springsteen. why does he resonate with so many people? rep. crowley: i think he resonates, certainly with me, he speaks to working men and women. he speaks to real-life solutions and overcoming problems.
not only laying out the depressing aspects of life, but bring out the triumphs of life, as well. the goodness in all of us. and i think that's something people can relate to. it's magical for me. it was magic when i was, my first concert, and going to madison square garden and seeing him, and attempting to go from the blue seats we were in the , rafters, down to the red seats, and getting kicked out. and in those days they wouldn't kick you out of the rina, -- kick you out of the arena, they would just put you back in your seats. he was magical. magnetic, as well. and i think about the promised , badlands, born to run, rosalita. they're uplifting, and they speak so well about the human condition. that was something i was attracted to. i always felt a kindred spirit to him. i met him a couple times. steve: what is he like in person? rep. crowley: he's a genuinely
decent person, and attentive. i got to meet him and we had a conversation when he received the presidential medal of freedom at the white house with president obama. i just could not let that opportunity go by. he might not ever remember meeting me, but i remember the conversation we had, talking about the songs he had. whether it was incident on 52nd street or does the bus stop at , 82nd street? i know he was recording at the manhattan, the west side of 51st street, he was recording the river when i was going to school just six blocks away. i was asking him questions about that. just taking that opportunity to learn what i could about his relationship to new york. he was from -- he is from new jersey, but spent a lot of time in new york city. steve: the one question we've been asking every retiree member is this. the state of washington -- the
state of politics in washington dc today is, complete the sentence. rep. crowley: i been here long enough to see when things have actually worked in the regular order. we speak of regular order, when things went through the committee, when there was an enough to see when things havehn even in the minority, we could affect the outcome in a bipartisan way. and that has changed here. that doesn't exist anymore. we just saw this tax bill. we call it a tax scam, a devastating bill for new york city and new york state. and how it went through the committee, how it passed on the floor without any democratic , input whatsoever. that certainly didn't happen went ronald reagan and tip oneill worked together
comprehensive tax reform, and comprehensive immigration reform. we've seen issues weather was an opportunity to work in a bipartisan way. much was driven by the president and how he has approached , politics. it's made it much more divisive for republican party to work with democratics to find solutions. steve: your primary race still gets a lot of attention. what happened? what were you thinking when you found out you lost? rep. crowley: there's probably a lot written about the statistics coming out. i think some had to do with the timing of the primary, the date. being separated from the state primaries. i think turnout was an issue. but at the end of the day, my opponent miss oak osseo cortez cortez ran an effective campaign. this is on me. i did not, i took for granted that people knew my record. they knew my a competence.
-- they knew>> do you have anotd you? -- in you? rep. crowley: i don't know yet. i'll wait and see. i love public service. the one thing i will miss his waking up and having a voice from my constituents up in new york, especially to protect them from this president, and to do all i could to prevent bad things happening to them. under this environment. i don't know yet. i don't want to say no. i just don't know yet. steve: what is next for you? rep. crowley: that i don't know either. i'm going to fill out my term here, early january. i will no longer be a congressman. i feel confident i'll have something meaningful to do in the future. i don't know if it will be political or not, but i have more to do and more to contribute. steve: your name has been
mentioned for somebody being in contention for being speaker of the house. were you interested in the job? rep. crowley: i think every member of congress would elect -- when elected, themselves as speaker at some point. -- when elected, fancies themselves as speaker at some point. that would have been great, too, have that come to fruition someday. but, got a different plan for me. i'm prepared for that, as well, to see what opportunities lie ahead. steve: you've worked with a lot of presidents. you came here when bill clinton was in the white house. who did you work with the closest? rep. crowley: it's interesting. i've had great relationships with bill clinton, with george bush even. worked very closely with him on a number of issues, and barack obama. i would have to say the obama administration because my greatest achievements as a congressman occurred with the
affordable care act, worked very closely with the obama administration, getting the votes we needed to pass it. it is one of the greatest accomplishments of my career here in washington. we delivered for millions of people who had no insurance, who today have it. , it's come under great attack by the republicans. when democrats take back the house, i believe health care is a right, not a privilege. we have to make it more universal, that coverage. i hope that is something the next congress does take up in democratic control. that we lead in providing more coverage, not less. steve: your fellow new yorker is in the white house. what do you think of donald trump? rep. crowley: i don't think it's any secret i think he is a great disappointment to the american people in terms of the office. he has done great damage to that office. i think as i mentioned earlier, the ability for us, not that
they're perfect, not that any president is perfect, but that we hold them to a high standard. this president has damaged that standard tremendously, in my opinion. i always thought someone from queens would become president of the united states, but i never thought it would be him. i think it's because my experience back home, i never wanted to be close to donald trump. whether it was whether he was a mogul in real estate, i never asked him for support or resources when i ran for office. i always maintained my distance. i was disappointed in his like a father figure in terms of the city. people step up to protect new york. i didn't see it then. i certainly don't see it now with the passive this tax bill. it's a done real damage to new york city and new york state. i found it weird someone who was the son of new york city in new york state was to damage the
state. steve: you worked with hillary clinton. what was she like to work with? rep. crowley: tremendous. she wanted to do things and get things accomplished and worked on behalf of the mutual interest of our constituents. i have a relationship with chuck schumer, and senator gillibrand as well. but i have a special relationship with hillary clinton. that stems back for her staying at my house when she was doing a tour. she stayed overnight, got to know myself. we had a newborn son, who is now in the naval academy. she's blown away by that, this little guy she held in her hands is now in the naval academy. it was a genuine relationship and a genuine friendship, as
well, that i maintain that to this day. steve: why do you think she lost? rep. crowley: it's a question often asked to me. she did win the popular vote by 3 million, but president trump became president of the united states. i recognize that. i think we all failed to connect with, we as the party, and she is the candidate, to connect to real people's lives and what they were dealing with. the opioid abuse, when we bailed out the big banks and saved the big three auto companies, we really didn't connect with 100,000 people who lost their jobs in the saving of those three companies. and their lives and the destruction and devastation. and i think we as a party overall were not connecting to that. the president, the con man i think he is, was able to step in and somehow relate with them better than hillary did.
i think it was wrong. if anyone, hillary clinton actually came from a middle-class family. she understood her father worked everyday and understood the in's and out's of everyday life for americans. it's tragic that pennsylvania, states like minnesota, wisconsin, michigan, went the other way. steve: con man? rep. crowley: his whole life, he -- his work with the casinos his , use of bankruptcy as a tool in business, his university, his product lines. all those things were, you know, they were successful at one end, but very flighty. never stood the test of time. steve: besides music and politics, what are joe crowley's passions? rep. crowley: my family, my kids.
my wife and i have three children. steve: their ages? rep. crowley: my older son collin is 19. my daughter kenzie is 17 going on 18, looking at colleges soon. my little guy liam is in the seventh grade. really wonderful kids. i'm very proud of what we have produced. the kids are full of empathy and care about other people. and they're not selfish i think casey in particular, she is with them more than i am because of this job. they are quality people. steve: if you could change one thing about the house of representatives, what would you change? rep. crowley: i think there's a lack of interaction between members of the republican conference and the house democratic caucus. i don't know if there's much that can be done to change that.
i think a lot of good laws were passed in terms of, they had some effect of making us more distant from each other. where people actually get a chance to get to know folks on the other side. or, through some trips, weather if you sit on the foreign affairs committee, which i did. i had an opportunity to work with republican colleagues, including mike pence, where we traveled to iraq and afghanistan in the mid to thousands. we got to know each other better. otherwise we wouldn't have had a chance to meet mike pence or get to know him. this really nothing here that brings people together, socially even. even from a delegation standpoint. i know some of the members of the new york delegation, i don't know anyone from the new york delegation. that's unusual. i tend to be somebody who you
can get along with. i pride myself on, even in a bipartisan way. that has become much more difficult to do today. finding some way to bring members on a basis together, findings more in common than we realize. steve: if leader pelosi becomes bigger again what advice would , you give her? what is her biggest challenge? rep. crowley: i learned one thing about nancy pelosi. she doesn't need advice. she's been there before. she's been historically the speaker of the house, the first female to do that. putting that aside, she is probably one of, if not the best, speaker in the century. she's a force of nature. i don't want to pretend to suggest i have to give nancy pelosi advice. but, if i did give advice, i
would say we need not only to address the issue of health care, which is paramount. we need to do something about infrastructure in the united states. and preparing our country for what lies ahead. that means investing in infrastructure. roads, tunnels, bridges, schools, hospitals, dams, and multiple facets, railways. it's not just about investing in america, it is about investing in jobs. real jobs for america. where they can send their kids to college, help them pay, give them a real living wage. in the job that is meaningful in the lives. those kinds of jobs develop when you invest in infrastructure. steve: to that point, can chuck schumer and nancy pelosi and mitch mcconnell, can they work together? can a democrat house and senate work with a republican white house? rep. crowley: it has happened before. we saw it with ronald reagan and tip o'neill.
we have seen it happen even during the george bush years. i think some of the damage that happened during the obama years when mitch mcconnell said we'll make him a long-term president, and after he was reelected did , nothing to help him legislatively. we saw the president have to move towards executive orders. i do think there could be an opportunity, especially on the infrastructure front, to find common ground and get something done. steve: finally, for the individual who will hold this seat, what is your advice? rep. crowley: my advice is that when you come here, it's a pretty humbling place. you have to work, not only within your own caucus, but with the republican conference as well and achieving in getting things done. take time to learn. get good assignments. you have to work with your colleagues to get your legislation through.
you have to help them get their legislation through. find out what they care about and help them. that will come back in droves to help you. steve: i began by asking you the memory of your first day. what will go through your memory your final day? rep. crowley: it will be a sad day. at the same time, i will look forward to the future. but, i will miss the people, not just my colleagues. i will miss my staff, certainly. i'm going to miss the people , the police officers, the folks who work here that i see all the time and interact with, they are the support staff. they sweep the floors, cleaned the offices. people i've gotten to know over the years. i'm going to miss waking up knowing that i speak on behalf of of 750,000 people. i was their voice, their eyes and ears in washington. i'm going to miss that. steve: congressman joe crowley,
direction of the republican party. this is 30 minutes. steve: what led to your decision to step down after one term? senator flake: the political outlook. it is a tough time to be here. i never did warm to the president in the campaign or as he governed. and these days you not only have to embrace the president, you have to embrace all of his politics and his behavior in order to get through a republican primary, and that was never in the cards for me. i just could not do it. i would have liked to stayed another term. that would have been it, but not in this environment, not given the costs i would have had to pay. steve: