AARP Eye Center
For the past six months, AARP Iowa volunteers and staff worked tirelessly on the Take a Stand campaign, calling for presidential candidates to address their plan to update Social Security for future sustainability. Activities launched in August 2015 at the Iowa State Fair and built steadily to the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucuses on February 1, 2016.
“The things I do for AARP! Last night I put on my AARP “Take a Stand” t-shirt over my other clothing, went out and climbed up into a 4-wheel drive pick-up driven by a young man I had only met briefly a few days before, and who was young enough to have been my grandson. In a snowstorm, he drove me to Dixie Quicks, a bit of a dive, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to hear Carly Fiorina give her political pitch. If my daughter had known I planned to do that, she probably would have called for emergency psychiatric services. Not my usual evening, but interesting.”
– Rosalee Yeaworth, Professor Emeritus and Dean Emeritus of the University of Nebraska College of Nursing. Yeaworth, an AARP volunteer since 1998, has also served on the AARP’s National Policy Council.
If anything, this quote sums up Caucus week in Iowa. “The things I do for AARP” was embodied by more than 140 volunteers who attended multiple candidate events to ask the xx Republican and 4 Democratic candidates the question, "If elected president, how would you update Social Security for current and future generations?"
In the weeks immediately prior to the caucuses, AARP Iowa volunteers were out in force on the campaign trail in their red, Take a Stand t-shirts at Republican and Democratic candidate events from Waterloo to Clinton, Coralville, Ames, Indianola, Pella, and Reinbeck as well as more numerous cities across the state. With the huge presence AARP Iowa was creating, it is not surprising that after the first few days out on the trail, candidates were taking notice, acknowledging are intrepid volunteers in their red shirts.
“And now I will talk about Social Security,” said Hillary Clinton while pointing to a crowd of AARP volunteers.
Candidates Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina had similar statements.
“You are going to ask about Social Security. I see the red shirts. It’s working,” Fiorina said.
“And we care about Social Security, I see people in red shirts,” Bernie Sanders said referencing AARP volunteers at one of his rallies.
AARP Iowa's pre-caucus Take a Stand activities for the three weeks before the Feb. 1 caucuses tallied 143 volunteers attending 98 candidate events in 24 counties. Volunteer Don Corrigan, one of our brightest candidate trackers in Iowa, attended more candidate events than anyone else. He participated in 72 candidate events this cycle!
Additional AARP staff and volunteers joined AARP Iowa from out of state, lending their time and expertise to the caucus trail.
"I’ll echo what others have said – it was a terrific experience to be part of the Iowa State Team for the Take A Stand Caucus effort! Getting to see first-hand the fantastic work being done by Iowa staff and volunteers across the state has energized me and will help in our efforts to keep the drumbeat going in Wisconsin. Thank you!"
-Lisa Lamkins, Advocacy Director, AARP Wisconsin
"I want to thank everyone too for an incredible experience! The Iowa office was so welcoming, the volunteers and staff so hard working and getting to see and meet the candidates up close and personal will be one of my most treasured memories, ever!"
- Kelli Fritts, Advocacy Director, AARP Colorado
After all the hustle and bustle of the caucuses, it was time to say goodbye to the candidates, and perhaps equally important, the media. AARP Iowa wrapped up its activities with a media send-off at the Des Moines airport on Tuesday morning, Feb. 2. Volunteers handed out “Campaign Trail Mix” as reporters, cameramen and general press left Iowa to head to the next big story, most to the candidates' next stop, the first in the nation primary in New Hampshire a week later.
Today, the Take a Stand campaign is still going strong in Iowa with Take a Stand follow-up meetings happening all around Iowa. With the general election right around the corner, AARP Iowa cannot wait to get back on the campaign trail, demanding that candidates Take a Stand on Social Security.