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AARP Exclusive: Republican Presidential Candidates Vow to Protect Social Security

GOP hopefuls explain how they would maintain the program for retirees

spinner image Republican candidates Nikki Haley and Donald Trump answer AARP's question on Social Security.
Republican candidates Nikki Haley and Donald Trump answer AARP's question on Social Security.

Two leading Republican presidential hopefuls tell AARP in exclusive interviews that if they make it to the White House, they will protect and strengthen Social Security for America’s retirees and future generations. 

As part of its commitment to fight to ensure Social Security is there for the more than 67 million Americans who receive its monthly payments, AARP asked leading GOP presidential hopefuls how they would support this bedrock program. Video answers from former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former President Donald Trump appear below.

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One in 5 Americans receive Social Security benefits each month, and 22 million of them live in households that rely on those payments for at least half of their income. For another 10 million Americans, Social Security makes up 90 percent of the money they need to survive.

“It’s important for voters, particularly those in the early primary states, to hear and see directly from the candidates on what their opinion is on Social Security — not just for now, but in the future,” says John Hishta, AARP senior vice president for campaigns. 

According to the Social Security trustees, unless Congress acts, the program’s trust fund will begin to run out of money in 2034.

“We know that the clock is ticking,” Hishta says. “We really want the candidates — not just at the presidential level, but candidates across the country who are running for Congress and the Senate — to start to articulate what they see as the challenges facing the program and how they would eventually fix it.”

In addition to the individual candidate videos, AARP released a 30-minute program in four early primary and caucus states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The video features GOP grassroots activists and voters describing why political leaders need to strongly support Social Security. 

In the individual videos, each GOP candidate was asked: “Older Americans have worked hard their entire lives and paid into Social Security. They've earned it and are counting on it for their retirement. How will you protect Social Security for them, their children and grandchildren?” They were then given up to two minutes to respond. The candidates’ recorded answers are included below in separate videos, which are ordered alphabetically by the candidates’ last names.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley


Former President Donald Trump


Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the latest candidate participation in the GOP primaries.

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