AARP requests DNC debate on issues facing 'older Americans'

The AARP, one of the largest advocacy groups for older Americans, is calling on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to host a presidential primary debate featuring issues concerning “older Americans.”

“As you continue planning presidential candidate debates, AARP urges you to consider scheduling one that focuses on the issues of particular concern to older Americans and their families,” the AARP said in the letter to DNC Chairman Tom Perez that was obtained by The Hill.

Americans over the age of 50 made up 56 percent of voters in 2018 and 46 percent of voters in 2016, according to exit polls. Comparatively, just about 19 percent of Americans aged 18-29 got out their vote in 2016.

“Our 38 million members and broader constituency of Americans age 50 and older are very concerned about the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, making sure that Medicare and Social Security are strengthened for current and future generations, and age discrimination in the workplace, among other issues which have not been sufficiently addressed in the debates to date,” the letter read.

AARP isn't the first group to make such a request. Earlier this summer, environmental groups requested a climate debate. And just last week End Citizens United urged the DNC to hold a debate focused on how the candidates plan to "reform our democracy."

While the 2020 Dem hopefuls have so far covered many of the issues important to Americans, DNC’s Perez wrote a Medium post in June saying limiting the debates to a single focus area discounted the credibility of the candidates’ full range.

“These debates are an opportunity to see our candidates engage on a range of issues that matter to the American people and that the next president will have to tackle,” Perez said.

He added that any one of the important issues should not get more attention than the other.

“We have received more than 50 requests to hold debates focused on these important issues and many others. And we knew it would be unfair and unrealistic to ask the candidates to participate in so many,” Perez said.