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The Takeaway: Older Voters In Florida Wanted More From GOP Candidates On Social Security, Medicare

Straight Talk, Please? Going into Florida's Republican primary election today, the candidates have spent little time focusing on programs such as Social Security and Medicare-and older voters aren't happy about it. In a state where about 40 percent of the population is 50 or older-and 30 to 60 percent of GOP primary voters are expected to be 65+-you would expect to see more commercials, more campaign talk, more of anything devoted to entitlement programs and reform. But these issues  received hardly any attention in Florida's pre-primary GOP debates. And though the candidates (particularly frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich) have been bombarding the airwaves with ads and making the rounds of Florida senior centers and retirement communities, they've mostly failed to get specific about their plans for programs crucial to older voters.

Most older voters say they don't know what distinguishes the GOP contenders from each other when it comes to the future of the two programs," notes the Boston Globe.

The GOP candidates-who have previously voiced approval for things like privatizing Social Security for younger workers (Gingrich) or raising the Medicare eligibility age (Romney)-might fear that real talk about their plans for these programs will put senior voters off. But a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found among Republicans 65 or older-whose Medicare status is secure-60 percent favor raising the Medicare eligibility age for future retirees. And even if older voters don't agree with aspects of the candidates' plans, they still wish the candidates would be honest about them. As AARP Florida director Jeff Johnson told NPR, whoever is elected president will have to deal with the issues of Social Security and Medicare and their long-term future.

"To not know before the election what the candidates think of those issues is really troubling."

For more on where the Republican presidential candidates stand in regard to Social Security, Medicare and other issues important to boomers and seniors, check out  AARP's Video Voters' Guide.

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Photo: Linda Davidson/Washington Post/Getty Images

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