GOP candidates cribbed answers to AARP survey

The answers were so good, Republican candidates wanted to use them as their own. The embarrassment was at least seven did.

Republicans in House races copied their party’s talking points and included parts of the answers as their own for an AARP survey. The answers related to Medicare, Social Security, insurance plans and retirement.

Candidates in Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, South Carolina and Texas all submitted the sometimes word-for-word responses, which originated with the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“We provided recommended answers and are glad they’re using them,” said Carl Forti, the group’s communications director.

Some of the campaigns also said they were happy to use the same talking points.

“Ralph has his own ideas, but we are lucky to have the NRCC’s help during this campaign because it’s more evidence that Ralph has what it takes to bring change to South Carolina and Washington,” said Rob Godfrey, communications director for Republican Ralph Norman’s campaign.

Democrats criticized the repeated words.

“Nothing makes it more clear that Republicans stand for ‘more of the same’ in Washington than these plagiarized surveys,” said Sarah Feinberg, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s press secretary.

Among the candidates who used the borrowed language were Andrea Zinga and Peter Roskam, both running in Illinois, Jeff Lamberti in Iowa, Chuck Blasdel in Ohio and Max Burns in Georgia.

Van Taylor’s campaign in Texas said the language helps the candidate understand the issues.

“It’s only natural when we were running for Congress, he wanted to become as knowledgeable as he could on the issues,” said Casey Phillips, Taylor’s campaign manager.

The issue echoes 2004, when at least five Republican candidates lifted passages for the same survey.

“We have made a commitment to all participants that we will not edit their comments,” said Mark Kitchens, an AARP spokesman. “At the same time, any AARP member or anyone who reads the AARP voter guide to gain insight into a candidate’s stance should take all steps necessary to deign clarification on a candidate’s positions.”

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press