Few celebrities are brave enough to invite the press to birthdays past the age of 29. But Jon Bauman, better known as Bowzer of Sha Na Na, is going so far as to use his 65th to launch a political campaign.
As part of a grassroots effort to defend Social Security, the rock 'n' roll artist will enroll in Medicare at a Sept. 14 rally in Ohio. The event, part of a "Truth Tour" sponsored by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, is designed to educate voters about the candidates best suited to preserve the two programs. They target seniors and boomers, but this year they're expanding their reach to women and younger voters that will be affected in the future by changes to the program.
"We want people to really see the breakdown of the myths versus the facts," said Pamela Tainter Causey, the group's communications director. "There are a lot of myths being conveyed publicly in a lot of these speeches at the conventions, etc. We want people to be armed with the facts before November."
In addition to several rallies across Ohio and Virginia, the campaign has spent nearly $700,000 on paid media buys, including online advertising and radio ads in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, New Mexico among other states. They're also ramping up staff in those and other swing states, holding tele-town halls and increasing their social media outreach in time for the election.
The committee, which is funded from dues paid by members who are Democrats and Republicans, has not endorsed a presidential candidate in its history, though they and their PAC have endorsed a number of House and Senate candidates.
Despite their reluctance to engage directly in the presidential election, one of their mobile billboards takes a clear swipe at the Romney campaign. "Hello Romney and Ryan, Goodbye Medicare and Social Security," reads the billboard.
"Their positions on these issues could not be further apart, and that's why we've come out so strong and in a very direct way," Tainter Causey said.