From the moment I walked into the Pennsylvania home shared by Arnie Freedman and his companion of 12 years, Shelly Winston, I knew we were going to get some strong opinions.
This couple represents your typical “older” Pennsylvania voter. The voter that tends to favor Hillary Clinton but that Barack Obama is trying to win over. From the sounds of it, he’s going to have a tough go of it in this household.
Arnie is 62. Shelly is 61. They aren’t retiring anytime soon but they do worry about retiring comfortably. Some background: they were in high school when John F. Kennedy was in the White House. Arnie was in the Air Force when Obama was in diapers, so that should help you understand where he’s coming from.
Both Arnie and Shelly are planning to vote for Hillary Clinton in the upcoming Pennsylvania primary. Shelly thinks Clinton knows the ins and outs of Washington and she likes that. Arnie says “with experience comes wisdom” and he simply thinks Clinton has more of it.
Like other older voters, they are worried about the economy, retirement savings, and social security. We interviewed them and listened to them chat as they made lunch together on a recent Wednesday afternoon.
Their main concern about Obama is his level of experience. They wonder if he has what it takes to handle the country’s economy and other financial concerns.
Shelly put it to me this way, “I hope there's gonna be Medicare, we're eligible in a couple years for it. I just don't want to wake up one day and everything's gone cause someone didn't do the right thing economically.”
I asked political expert Don Kettl, from the University of Pennsylvania, what Obama can do to win over the older voter. He had this advice, “Assure older voters that stability in the economy and savings is going to be there, that he can make sure inflation isn't going to eat away at the savings, that Medicaid will be funded, Social Security's gonna be there.”
If the polls are correct, Obama must be doing something right already. He’s been closing the gap with Clinton in the last couple of weeks. In the CNN's "poll of polls" released today, he was just 7 points behind her. In a state that sports is the second oldest voter demographic in the country, behind Florida, that’s pretty good for the senator from Illinois, who tends to fire up the younger voters.
Arnie and Shelly may not be sold, but we’ll have to wait until April 22nd to see which way the rest of the state goes….
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