By Elise Viebeck - 10/04/12 07:59 PM EDT
AARP has a message for President Obama: Stop using us to score political points.
Obama cited the nonpartisan senior lobby twice in Wednesday's debate when arguing against Mitt Romney's Medicare proposals.
The remarks prompted a polite statement from AARP Senior Vice President John Hishta asking candidates to refrain from mentioning the group.
"AARP has never consented to the use of its name by any candidate or political campaign," Hishta said.
"AARP is a nonpartisan organization, and we do not endorse political candidates nor coordinate with any candidate or political party."
"The next president and Congress will decide the future of Medicare, and the candidates owe voters straight talk — not just 30-second ads — about what their plans will mean for today's seniors and future retirees," Hishta said in August.
On Wednesday, Obama cited AARP estimates to argue that savings from the healthcare law will extend Medicare's lifetime. He also told Romney that "AARP has said that your plan would weaken Medicare substantially."
AARP supported Obama's signature healthcare law, prompting criticism from conservatives who believe the group is more political and left-leaning than it says.
On Thursday, Reps. Phil GingreyPhil GingreyBeating the drum on healthcare Former GOP chairman joins K Street Former Rep. Gingrey lands on K Street MORE (R-Ga.) and Charles BoustanyCharles BoustanySenate GOP candidate pushing bill to 'curb regulatory overreach' Overnight Finance: GOP chairman moves to censure IRS chief | Puerto Rico deal close? | Fed eyes June rate hike | Obama's secret meeting with China's richest man Dozens of House members promote tax bills at hearing MORE Jr. (R-La.) aired these complaints after AARP moved to distance itself from Obama.
"In reality, senior AARP leadership and key White House officials worked closely together on the passage of President Obama's healthcare reform," Gingrey and Boustany wrote in a press memo.
"AARP leadership consistently ignored the deluge of calls from members, the majority of which opposed ObamaCare, and instead continued working in conjunction with the White House to perfect their 'messaging' to seniors," the memo stated.