Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, CCAS BA ’85, would prefer not to talk about the television series House of Cards.
But almost all other topics were on the table at the sixth annual Wall Street Symposium on April 22, where Mr. Cantor spoke with Tara Rosenblum, SMPA BA ’00, Emmy Award-winning reporter and anchor for News 12 Westchester, at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center.
Mr. Cantor and Ms. Rosenblum discussed a wide range of issues, from reflections on his political past to his family life and favorite GW memories during a “lightning round” session.
Mr. Cantor said the university is a “pivotal presence” in the nation’s capital and was the foundation for his career in politics.
“I think the experience I had in downtown D.C., sandwiched between the State Department and the White House, could not have been a better feeding ground for me, given where I am now,” he said.
Now vice chairman of Moelis & Company, Mr. Cantor said his current position allows him to pursue the same interests he had in Congress—encouraging people to invest capital to drive growth.
“I still care about the country,” he said. “I think what we do helps people help their companies. That helps grow our economy and ultimately, I think contributes to upward mobility for everybody.”
Although he is no longer a civil servant, Mr. Cantor still keeps an eye on Capitol Hill. He expressed concern about politics surrounding the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the normalizing of U.S.-Cuba relations, and he told Ms. Rosenblum that Congress and President Obama should strive for more comradery.
“This may sound too simple, but I really think that the human nature of dealing with one another is somehow lost in the noise down there,” he said. “I plea with the President and his team to use that office to entice members on my side of the aisle to come have a meal, coffee or drink and enjoy one another’s company just to establish some rapport. Unfortunately not enough of that takes place.”
Looking ahead to the 2016 presidential election, Mr. Cantor said he would bet on the Republican nomination going to Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, or Scott Walker. But when asked if he would run for office again, Mr. Cantor said he feels he can still make an impact in the private sector.
“I feel like there is such an opportunity at the intersection of what GW represents and what we represent here—a connection between the nation’s capital and the world’s financial center,” he said. “There is so much opportunity between the two. I look forward to the opportunity to continue in both spheres.”
The annual Wall Street Symposium brings together GW’s alumni, parents, and friends in the world of real estate and finance in New York. Nearly 18,000 alumni call the region home, the largest concentration of alumni outside of Washington, D.C. The connection between New York and the District is strong in large part thanks to the service of alumni on the NYC Real Estate & Finance Board of GW’s Real Estate and Finance Alliance. Several of them attended the symposium, including board co-chairs Jared Golub, GWSB BBA’00, and Bill Ziegler, GWSB BBA’81.
In his introductory remarks, President Knapp noted that New York was the perfect stage for discussions that connect the worlds of finance and politics — and the strong relationship between New York and Washington, D.C. “There is nothing more important to the long term strategy and the contribution that our university makes both to its students and to our nation than this very powerful connection between the world’s financial capital and the world’s political capital,” he said.
President Knapp also informed the audience— which included GW Board of Trustees member Mark Shenkman, GWSB MBA’67— that Making History: The Campaign for GW has raised more than $730 million to enhance academics, support students, and break new ground in research opportunities at GW.
For NYC Real Estate & Finance Board member Matthew Cohen, GWSB BBA’ 08, GWSB MBA’11, this year’s symposium was a chance to see a man who created his biggest “only-at-GW” moment. When he was an undergraduate at GW, Mr. Cohen had the opportunity to participate in a video interview with Mr. Cantor about job creation in his Capitol Hill office.
“As a young student and young mind who is filling myself with all these different experiences at GW and in Washington D.C., it was truly one of those moments I’ll never forget and further made me appreciate all the opportunities you have at GW that you don’t have anywhere else in the world,” he said.