'GRANNY VOTER' Project aims to address future issues
Some of politics leading women have joined together for the project.
WASHINGTON -- Pat Schroeder is about to become a grandmother, but don't let some young whippersnapper politician tell her what issues to care about.
The 64-year-old former congresswoman from Colorado says activists like her care about far more than just Social Security checks and prescription drug benefits.
What about the national debt? The environment? Education?
Seniors worry about the world they will leave behind for their grandchildren, Schroeder said, but politicians in general talk down to them about selfish, short-term interests.
"Part of that ageism stems from how you're viewed in the political arena as a bunch of greedy old grannies," Schroeder said.
She's angry, and so are some high-powered friends of hers such as former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, columnist Ellen Goodman and other leading women over age 60.
So they dragged rocking chairs to the park outside the White House on Sunday to launch the "Granny Voter" project, a nonpartisan effort to get politicians talking about longer-term issues.
"All of us were frustrated with the shortsightedness of politicians when they talk to people our age," Schroeder said. "It's all about how much our pills cost."
Setting an example
Ferraro, who was Democrat Walter Mondale's vice presidential running mate in 1984, plans to take one of her seven grandchildren into the voting booth with her in November. If more grandparents did that, maybe elected officials would look ahead to the issues that will affect the country the children will have as adults, she said.
The new group grew out of informal meetings that started last year. As an offshoot of a 501(c)(3) charity, the group is not expected to engage in the same types of political advertising that so-called "527" groups have been flooding the airwaves this election. However, the high-profile women will be doing all they can to broaden the debate.
They already have contacted well-known national pollsters, trying to get them to start breaking down their survey results by grandparents and nongrandparents. That's because people tend to think differently about political issues once they have another generation to worry about, said Andrea Camp, Schroeder's former congressional press secretary.
"It's a broadening of the political discussion to look at older voters as more than single-issue voters," Camp said.