Only two Republican presidential candidates agreed to participate in an AARP forum scheduled in Sioux City next Thursday. The event was to have aired on PBS, but since just John McCain and Mike Huckabee agreed to take the stage, that national broadcast has been cancelled.
AARP Iowa director Bruce Koeppl says his group will instead host a town hall meeting in Sioux City on that night to give Huckabee and McCain time to speak, and then answer questions from the audience. "We have got two candidates who want to come up and talk about these issues," Koeppl says. "We just felt it was going to be more valuable for everybody to tweak the format a little bit."
Five Democratic presidential candidates gathered in Davenport last month in a nationally broadcast forum sponsored by AARP. Koeppl says his group doesn’t endorse candidates, but he is making it clear AARP isn’t pleased with the Republicans who spurned their invitation to appear on the Sioux City stage.
"That’s what campaigns are supposed to be about, at least that’s what they used to be about," Koeppl says. "…You’re supposed to come up and talk about these issues, talk about your ideas."
The two candidates who have agreed to appear — McCain and Huckabee — will not appear on stage together, but will split the 90 minutes allotted for the event next Thursday, October 25.