Biden, 69, seeks Florida seniors' votes for Obama

By Matt Sedensky

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Sept. 28 2012 2:30 p.m. MDT

Dot Tillett, 67, said Biden was the right running mate for Obama, and a good choice to send to talk to seniors. "He's a perfect complement," she said. "He communicates well with people of all types. He's just that kind of guy."

Dorothy Schayes, 87, was less enthusiastic about the vice president, calling him "a joke." But deeply behind Obama, she hoped others were paying attention to the Medicare debate, which she said spurred concern for her 16-year-old granddaughter.

"I think there's trouble for her," she said. "So he needs another term."

At the deli later, the vice president also made a detailed sales pitch to a customer who had questions about Obama's health care overhaul.

"You will be able to get better health care than you get now in terms of cost for a lot less money," Biden told Steve Grossman, 39.

Younger people also are being enlisted by the Democrats in going after the elderly. The Obama campaign announced a new e-card effort asking young supporters to send messages to their parents and grandparents telling them their Social Security and other benefits are at risk under Republican plans.

Seniors, like people in most demographics, are largely decided on who they'll vote for in the election. So making sure supporters turn out at the polls is important for both campaigns. Nationally, the 65+ population votes at a higher rate than any other age group.

Florida has a higher proportion of people 65 and older than any other state, and its total population of nearly 3.3 million seniors is second only to California. An estimated 68 percent of seniors in Florida voted in the 2008 presidential election.

A national Associated Press-GfK poll earlier this month found 52 percent of seniors supported Romney compared to 41 percent for Obama. But Democrats have sought gains among seniors by criticizing Romney's plan for Medicare, and a Pew poll released last week showed older voters who rate Medicare as a very important issue supported Obama by a substantial margin.

Zeldon said the resurgence of the Medicare issue has given an opportunity to Obama with older voters.

"He sees them as a vulnerable population for the Republicans," Zeldon said. "When they raised the issue of Medicare, they gave the Democrats a gift, because it allows them to give their ideas about Medicare and it's an easier sell."

Associated Press writers Curt Anderson in Florida and Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.

Follow Matt Sedensky on Twitter at www.twitter.com/sedensky

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