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Montana Broadcasters Association Set to Host U.S. Senatorial Debate

AARP Montana announced it is joining the Montana Broadcasters Association as a sponsor of the state’s first U.S. Senatorial debate of the general election season. The Montana Broadcasters Association is presenting the debate between Republican candidate Denny Rehberg and Democratic candidate Jon Tester at its annual convention on June 24 at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish.

"On behalf of AARP's more than 150,000 Montana members, we are pleased to sponsor a forum where the two candidates for U.S. Senate can present their respective visions for the future of our state and nation," said AARP Montana State President Joy Bruck. "The next Senator will face a daunting set of public policy issues that are critical to the future of all Montanans. Those at mid-life and older are paying close attention to an array of issues including how our Senator will continue to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare for today’s retirees and future generations.”

The Montana Broadcasters Association hosts an annual convention each summer. During election cycles, the Broadcasters Association presents the most-watched debates in the state. The live senatorial debate will air commercial-free at 9 a.m. on Sunday June 24 on all major networks across Montana. Stations will also re-air the debate throughout the week. The televised debate will reach every household in Montana that has a TV – more than 400,000 households.

Some national observers have noted that while 2008 was all about younger voters’ energy, 2012 could be the comeback of seniors as kingmakers. On January 1, 2011 the baby boomers began turning 65. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that almost 8,000 people a day will celebrate that significant birthday, and it's a process that will continue through 2039 when the last of the 78 million Boomers reaches 65.

By 2015, projections rank Montana fourth in the nation in percentage of seniors. By 2025 the number of “mature Montanans" – those over 65 -- will more than double. Civic engagement is important to this cohort. Eighty three percent of Montana residents 50+ voted in the last election.

Decades of stagnating incomes, shrinking savings and surging debt have weakened the personal economic foundation for many Americans and left them vulnerable to the financial crisis. Montanans over 50 rate their personal economic security as one of their most important concerns.

“As a non-profit, non-partisan organization, we do not endorse candidates. We instead focus on voter education – getting candidate positions on issues and then letting our members know those positions so they can make informed decisions. Our members want to know what these candidates are going to do about the nation’s problems and we will do all we can to help them get those answers,” Bruck added.

Moderator Greg MacDonald, a veteran journalist and President and CEO of the Montana Broadcasters Association, will ask the candidates their views on issues impacting Montana families including the economy, jobs, the federal debt and health and retirement security.

"AARP Montana is pleased to sponsor the first debate of the state’s general election season for U.S. Senatorial candidates," said AARP Montana State Director Bob Bartholomew. "We look forward to hearing where each candidate stands on issues that are important to older Montanans."

The event is not open to the public, however, those interested are urged to tune in on Sunday, June 24 at 9 am.

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