Page 2 of 2   <      

Worried Democrats courting elderly voters as midterm elections near

Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine talks about the political party's strategy for the November congressional elections. Kaine speaks with Lizzie O'Leary in an interview to air on Bloomberg Television's "Political Capitl With Al Hunt' this weekend. Bloomberg's Julie Hyman also speaks. (Source: Bloomberg)
Chart shows senior citizens are the most Republican-leaning age group in recent polls.

This month, Democratic leaders in the House issued a memo to their colleagues, recommending that they take advantage of the 75th anniversary of Social Security to reach out to these crucial voters. Although only a few Republicans have proposed privatizing Social Security, Democratic leaders suggested warning seniors of the resurrection of that Bush administration idea.

Keith Fimian, Connolly's Republican opponent in what will probably be a close race, has said he opposes privatizing the federal entitlement program. However, Connolly's campaign has criticized Fimian for his endorsement by FreedomWorks, a fiscally conservative group that supports allowing workers to divert a portion of their payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts.

Many at the Greenspring event recognized the need to fix Social Security, which is on track to go bankrupt in the coming decades without changes. However, most in attendance did not think privatizing it was the solution.

"There are people who think even today that it would be a good idea to privatize Social Security," Connolly said to the group, eliciting boos. "I will resist to my last breath any attempt to privatize Social Security."

It was a potent issue for the approximately two dozen seniors who gathered to hear Connolly speak and nibble on chocolate cake decorated with the number 75. This is a community of loyal voters and news junkies. In 2006, during the last midterm elections, 80 percent of the voters at Greenspring turned out to vote.

For most of the visit, however, Connolly simply worked the crowd, calling the women "darlin' " and cracking jokes about his Irish heritage. He threw an arm around the shoulders of one Republican he knows, and the two engaged in good-natured ribbing. Connolly greeted many by their first names, and amazed one man by recalling that he had recently turned 90.

"I know everything," Connolly responded. "I'm your congressman."

<       2

© 2010 The Washington Post Company