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Advocacy Groups Hit the Trail Alongside Candidates Advocacy Groups Hit the Trail Alongside Candidates Advocacy Groups Hit the Trail Alongside Candidates Advocacy Groups Hit the T...

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Advocacy Groups Hit the Trail Alongside Candidates

January 24, 2012

It's never too early to start lobbying a political candidate.

Several groups have been out on the campaign trail trying to draw out where the GOP presidential candidates stand on certain issues and also to make sure the issues are elevated to the level that the candidates have to address them.

AARP, for example, has been active since the Iowa straw poll, meeting with voters and candidates in early primary and caucus states. It got several of the candidates, including Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, to do interviews where they discuss issues facing older voters such as Social Security, Medicare and the economy.

Staff and volunteers have been blanketing town halls to push candidates for specifics on their proposals, said Nancy LeaMond, an AARP executive vice president.

"There are a lot of issues being talked about," LeaMond said. "We want to make sure those that are the top of the list for older Americans are addressed."

AARP has produced a voter guide for its members on the candidates' stances.

Come the general election, AARP is going to be active in battleground states with a large percentage of voters over the age of 50, including Colorado, New Mexico, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa and Pennsylvania.

"It'll be a very major effort for us," LeaMond said.

Meanwhile, Building America's Future, a bipartisan group of elected officials, has been pushing to get the candidates to address infrastructure problems around the country. Its website tracks where the candidates stand on infrastructure and it has organized trips to early voting states.

Members of Building America's Future have focused on promoting infrastructure investment with local groups and voters, who in turn can raise the issue with the candidates, said Scott Smith, the Republican mayor of Mesa, Ariz., who has gone to both New Hampshire and South Carolina.

He said the country needs serious investment to repair crumbling infrastructure, but that the issue became politicized after the stimulus funding. Infrastructure spending, though, does not have to add to the deficit, Smith said. The federal government can help by working with cities to accelerate projects and attract private capital.

"We're not asking for a handout," Smith said. "Mayors are not looking for the federal government to cut huge checks to the cities."

Smith is the second vice president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which was in Washington last week and pressed Congress and the administration to address infrastructure problems.

The advocacy group USAgainstAlzheimer's has also been active in early voting states, while the U.S. Travel Association is planning to push for policies that help the travel industry at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

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