Obama courts the over-70 set

May 1, 2008

CHARLES CITY, Indiana – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama tried on Thursday to win over members of one of his most skeptical audiences: senior citizens.

Those voters have tended to be a strong base for Obama’s rival Hillary Clinton, a former first lady and New York senator. At 60, Clinton is older than the 46-year-old Obama and is seen by many older voters as the more experienced candidate.

Visiting an assisted living center in Indiana, the Illinois senator shared stories about his grandfather’s service in World War II, his grandmother’s frugality and his mother’s battle with cancer.barack.jpg

He also expressed empathy for the daily struggles of older people worried about paying for prescription drugs and health care while trying to get by on a fixed income.

In a proposal that was popular with the group, Obama promised to try to eliminate the income tax on their Social Security benefits.

He also underlined his opposition to a temporary suspension of the federal gasoline tax — an idea proposed by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain¬† and also supported by Clinton.

Obama said the gas tax suspension “isn’t a real solution” because it would provide, at most, only a short-term fix to the energy problem. He also said it would divert money from the fund used to pay for highway repairs.

One questioner mentioned an idea that Clinton has proposed — suspending the gasoline tax and making up the difference for the highway trust fund with a tax on windfall profits of oil companies.

The questioner, an older woman, asked whether a short-term fix to the energy problem was such a bad thing, remarking jokingly that “a lot of us are nothing but short-timers.”

That drew laughter from the group, prompting Obama to say: “You look like you’re going to be around for a while.”

Obama seemed to impress the crowd after a nearly hour-long visit.

Lavera Schroeder, 82, said she found Obama to be a “normal person” who “talked on our terms” and did not use confusing words or jargon that the group would not understand.

“He said his mother tried to get by,” she said. “That’s how we grew up. We ate molasses and home-made bread.”

But Schroeder said she would not be able to vote for Obama in Tuesday’s primary election in Indiana because she had been in the hospital and not had a chance to register.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

РPhoto credit: Reuters/John Gress (Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama campaigns at the CMW specialty metals factory in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 30)


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Give it up Obama. You may have the younger set of the population fooled but not the over 50’s. By the time you have reached 50 yrs old most citizens are smart and experienced enough to know when they are getting the wool pulled over their eyes…Obama is great at oratory when it is a precticed, designated setting. Let him get out of his comfort zone and he is a high tempered elitist with unsavory associates for friends. Rev. Wright will always be his legacy and his run for the Presidency is doomed..We hear Christian, Muslim, atheist and if you resaerch you still don’t really know what his religios affiation is…These qualities are not what we need to run our Country and bring our SOLDIERS HOME. HRC is the only answer. A vote for Obama is a vote for McCain….GOD BLESS AMERICA…

Posted by kaye c. | Report as abusive

I’m 72. I LOVE Barack Obama.

Posted by Malama Makena | Report as abusive

I just turned 75 and I will be voting for Obama. I started watching Obama when he made the famous speech at the Democratic convention. He is capturing the imagination of so many people….I am very excited. He is a gentleman and no matter what, he takes the high road. As a retired teacher, he exemplifies so many of the characteristics I emphasized when I was in the classroom. I expect him to inspire us to do much more regarding global warming and taking care of our children and the elderly. It is going to take all of us to make the changes we need.

Posted by Margaret Linder | Report as abusive

Dear Kaye:
I’m white, Catholic, 53 and voting for Obama. He’s the only candidate with who sees the world through contemporary, and suitably multi-cultural, eyes. I don’t expect my country’s leader to be, or to brand others, by their religion or the evil of their empire. Rather I expect him to restore pride for this country by its youth and respect for America by the people of other nations.

Posted by sean o | Report as abusive


the difference between 46 and my current 52 is just so profound.

my smart-aleck guess is that Obama pulls at least half of the boomers that have an older brother or sister Hilary’s age.

Posted by scooter | Report as abusive

Obama the world trust you. Please make American proud again.

God will deliver this country.


Posted by Arche | Report as abusive

Obama 2008!!!!!

Posted by Josh in Seattle | Report as abusive

Kaye: I’m feel insulted when someone tries to tell me how older voters think. I’m considering both candidates very carefully, listening to them and reading about them. I just don’t think it helps much to attack one or the other of them. The committed Democrats I know support one another. We don’t want to see another four years of Bush’s policies. Anyway, you can’t scare me off from considering Obama on his own merits. He’s an excellent candidate, and so is Hillary Clinton.

Posted by Joe C | Report as abusive

I’m 53 and my brothers are older, one’s 65, we are all for Obama. If you want 4 more years of Bush, he’s not running but vote McCain, he’ll be about as bad.

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

I’m white, female, 76 years old, and voted this week in the North Carolina primary’s early voting – for Obama. I plan to vote for him in November…

Posted by Pat | Report as abusive

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  !!!

go OBAMA!!!!

Posted by Margaret | Report as abusive

The far right will CLING to Wright since they have little good to say about Bush or McCain.

Posted by Mr. Unite Us | Report as abusive

Obama ..is NOT my choice! I KNOW he does not have the experience of the back stabbing Washington insiders tactics . He has to be able to withstand personal attacks ….like the Rev Wright has delivered …without a misstep!!! He has faultered already.
Hillary has been inspected from birth till death …millions have been spent trying to drag her under … only Bill’s zipper problem brought him down!
Yet George can start an illegal war .. limit or take away Constitutional Rights …eves drop on the phone and internet … give torture as a gift to prisoners …and
walk away leaving the mess for the next president to fix!
Voters BEWARE… vote for someone who knows the rules of the game!!! When Bill Clinton was President we were doing fine in America … Hillary was there ..listened,saw, learned. She can do the job !!! Vote Hillary!!!

Posted by liberatedfemale | Report as abusive

Yes, Hilary was there during the Clinton administration, she was in charge of getting a national health care plan. It didn’t happen and many say that a portion of the reason is that Hilary Clinton does not work well with others. She wants us to look at her record. I have and I’m not impressed. I live in Upstate NY. Again, Clinton’s record does not impress me.

Obama clearly can reach agreement with people in different parties and inspire people to take action. He is not perfect, but he does not claim to be. He is by far the most admirable politician I have seen in my lifetime (I’m too young to remember Kennedy or earlier). Obama 08!!!

And to all the over-50’s that commented above on their support and vote. Thank you. I didn’t register as a Democrat in time to vote in the NY primary, so I’m eagerly awaiting voting for Obama for the first time in November.

Posted by Another Liberated Female | Report as abusive