Kerry to speak to AARP

Bush appearance unsure

23,000 expected at senior organization's convention

October 13, 2004|By Deborah Barfield Berry | Deborah Barfield Berry,NEWSDAY

WASHINGTON - On the heels of the final presidential debate, Sen. John Kerry is expected to address more than 20,000 people at the AARP's national convention in Las Vegas tomorrow. President Bush has not yet accepted an invitation.

AARP, a co-sponsor of tonight's presidential debate in Tempe, Ariz., has invited both candidates to its annual convention in neighboring Nevada, which has drawn 23,000 conventioneers - a record number for the organization.

AARP officials said that they were still in discussions with Bush campaign officials over a stop at the convention. Bush will be in Las Vegas tomorrow to speak at a rally with Republican governors.

Kerry has agreed to speak to the convention tomorrow morning and is likely to discuss such pressing issues for seniors as Medicare and Social Security. The Massachusetts senator has criticized Bush for supporting the controversial new Medicare drug bill, which he has said is confusing for seniors and offers little relief on their drug bills.

AARP, the powerful senior lobbying group with 36 million members, has come under fire from some of its members and health groups for also backing the Medicare measure. AARP officials argued that a flawed bill was better than not having a drug benefit at all.

But since its passage in November, the group has tried to change provisions in the law, including one to allow the importation of drugs from Canada.

Bush opposes importation until the safety of the drugs can be verified; Kerry says he would allow importation.

Newsday is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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