In the first presidential debate last week between President Barack Obama and Republican Challenger Mitt Romney, Obama invoked the support of AARP for Obamacare. When Romney attacked Obamacare for being a partisan plan that raises costs and will leave about 20 million more Americans uninsured than before, Obama mentioned that AARP supported his health plan.
Twice the president invoked AARP’s support saying:
“And this is not my own — only my opinion. AARP thinks that the savings that we obtained from Medicare bolster the system, lengthen the Medicare trust fund by eight years. Benefits were not affected at all.”
And again, saying:
“And this is the reason why AARP has said that your plan would weaken Medicare substantially. And that’s why they were supportive of the approach that we took,”
In fact, prior to the debate, AARP had endorsed Obamacare on more than one occasion. The senior organization seemed to support almost everything about Obama which is why a number of seniors I know either refused to join or in several cases cancelled their membership.
Evidently, Obama’s poor showing in the debate has left AARP in a pickle that they are now trying to get themselves out of. John Hishta, senior vice president for AARP says that the organization is nonpartisan and has never given consent to any politician or political group to use their name. He also said that voters are entitled to more than just sound bites or snippets on important subjects such as Medicare, Social Security and other programs that affect America’s seniors.
In a statement released after the debate, AARP stated:
“While we respect the rights of each campaign to make its case to voters, AARP has never consented to the use of its name by any candidate or political campaign. AARP is a nonpartisan organization and we do not endorse political candidates nor coordinate with any candidate or political party.”
Some politicians like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) believe that AARP still is aligning itself with Obama and his healthcare program and that they will reap a financial gain through that program. DeMint commented about AARP’s post-debate statement saying:
“AARP knows it can protect its financial interests by aligning with Democrats, no matter what its members think.”
If that is true, then why the sudden denouncement of Obama’s invoking of their support for his healthcare program? I strongly suspect that AARP’s management saw Obama’s poor showing in the debate and realized that many of their members may be having second thoughts about the organization’s previous support of Obamacare. It looks like they are doing their best to save face in case Obama loses in November, which hopefully is the case. Now if only more national organizations will follow suit and withdraw their support of Obama, it may make his demise in November more of a reality.