America's largest advocacy organization with 38 million members including 380,000 Iowans, today announced their national, grassroots issues campaign is beginning in Iowa as part of the January 2008 caucuses.
AARP CEO Bill Novelli, former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R-Lake Mills), and leaders of the state's business, industry, education and labor communities joined together at the Iowa State Capitol to launch "Divided We Fail, Together We Can Do Anything."
The diverse "Divided We Fail" alliance will work together in Iowa over the next 10 months leading up to the caucuses on January 14, 2008, to urge action from elected leaders on the issues of health and long-term financial security. This is the first grassroots operation publicly underway as part of AARP's national effort with the Business Roundtable and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
"Together, we represent more than 50 million Americans and their families. And we are standing united--here in Iowa and across the country--to demand action, answers, accountability and an end to gridlock," said Novelli.
In Iowa, the initial "Divided We Fail" campaign includes AARP, the Principal Financial Group, Des Moines University, the Iowa Health Care Association, DeWaay Capital Management, and Iowa SEIU, with additional organizations joining in the coming weeks. These organizations will collaborate to use the influence of their combined institutional reach to amplify the message that attaining health and long-term financial security is vital for all Americans, and that these issues must be included in the national electoral debate.
"The rising costs of health care and the low rate of savings among Americans cause grave concern for long-term financial security. We are pleased to join AARP and a diverse group of leading Iowa organizations in urging those seeking to lead our nation to clearly address their proposed solutions," said former Gov. Terry Branstad, President of Des Moines University.
Bruce Koeppl, AARP Iowa "Divided We Fail" Campaign Manager, said results of a new survey of 400 registered Iowa voters age 18+, finds that while more than two-thirds of Iowans believe the legislative system in Washington is seriously broken (80.2 percent for Democrats; 54.1 percent for Republicans), a 58 percent majority believe the country's health care and financial security systems can be fixed, without adding to the deficit and burdening future generations.
"Iowa voters of both parties share strong opinions on these issues, and agree on the need to move forward," said Koeppl. "Divided We Fail is ultimately about bringing these issues center stage so that caucus-goers have the information they need to make informed choices."
Koeppl said a key tactic in moving the issues forward is joining with a diverse group of Iowa businesses and organizations to use their collective networks and outreach efforts to get Iowans of all ages, backgrounds and political affiliations involved with the issues.
"Rapidly escalating health care costs, shortfalls in quality and safety, and the high number of uninsureds threaten the long-term prosperity of America's consumers and businesses and the economy in general. Americans are ready for fundamental change. This coalition can serve as a positive catalyst for change," said John Aschenbrenner, President, President of Insurance and Financial Services, The Principal Financial Group.
"We all agree that the health and long-term financial security crises in America need to be addressed by our political leaders," said Steve Ackerson, Executive Director of the Iowa Health Care Association.
"Divided We Fail will provide an excellent opportunity for 2008 candidates to discuss the importance of individual retirement planning," said Don DeWaay, founder of DeWaay Capital Management. "Iowans need to hear about the opportunities that are available to them to ensure they have a long-term financial plan that works."
In addition to banding together with diverse organizations, Koeppl said during the caucus season, the Iowa Divided We Fail campaign will encompass additional coalition building to expand the network of organizations involved; a series of at least 40 local town hall meetings and candidate events on the issues; member engagement and volunteer mobilization, involving outreach to the more than 380,000 Iowa AARP members; extensive newspaper, TV and radio advertising; plus online activities to engage the public, business and elected officials in the debate, and encourage public leaders to offer solutions.
Koeppl said the Iowa campaign will be coordinated with national and other primary state efforts in tandem with a team of Iowa Divided We Fail dedicated staff including two Iowans Pete Jeffries, former Senior Counsel for the Nussle for Governor campaign, and Betsy Shelton, former Chief of Staff for former First Lady Christie Vilsack.
Novelli summed up the effort by saying, "Congress and the President must act soon before our options become too few and the costs prohibitive. None of us can do this alone—this partnership is vital to the success of realized real change. Divided we fail, but, united we succeed."
Divided We Fail, the most ambitious efforts in AARP's 49-year history, is designed to engage the American people, elected officials and the business community to find broad-based, bi-partisan solutions to the most compelling domestic issues facing the nation—health care and the long-term financial security of Americans.
More information about these efforts can be found at the newly launched website, www.dividedwefail.org and on the Iowa AARP webpage at www.aarp.org/ia.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50 + educators; and our website, www.aarp.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.