April 19, 2007

AARP Teams with South Carolina Business, Industry and Education to Spur Action on Healthcare, Lifetime Financial Security
South Carolinians Seek Action, Answers and Accountability on Healthcare and Lifetime Financial Security

AARP, America’s largest advocacy organization with 38 million members, including 534,000 South Carolinians, today announced its national, grassroots issues campaign is beginning in South Carolina—host to one of the first Republican and Democratic presidential primaries in 2008.

AARP National board member Richard Johnson, fifth graders from Columbia’s Rosewood Elementary School and leaders of the state’s business, industry, and education communities joined together at Rosewood Elementary to launch South Carolina AARP Divided We Fail.

The Divided We Fail alliance will work together in South Carolina over the next 10 months leading up to the Democratic presidential primary on January 29, 2008, and the Republican presidential primary on February 2, 2008, to ensure the candidates address access to health care and financial security issues, as well as to urge action from elected leaders on the issues of healthcare and lifetime financial security.

“AARP believes all Americans should have access to affordable, quality health care and peace of mind about their lifetime financial security,” said Johnson. “We are working for all generations - our members, their children and their grandchildren.”

In South Carolina, the initial Divided We Fail campaign includes AARP, BlueCross and BlueShield of South Carolina, Bank of America, Coca Cola Consolidated, Merrill Lynch, the Alzheimer’s Association-South Carolina Chapter, and the Soft Drink Association of South Carolina, with additional organizations joining in the coming weeks. These organizations will collaborate to use the influence of their combined institutional reach to amplify the message that attaining health and lifetime financial security is vital for all Americans, and that these issues must be included in the national electoral debate.

“South Carolina voters of both parties share strong opinions on these issues, and agree on the need to move forward,” said Jane Wiley, AARP South Carolina state director. “Divided We Fail is ultimately about bringing these issues center stage so that primary voters have the information they need to make informed choices.”

Divided We Fail Campaign Manager Bill Brown described a key tactic in moving the issues forward is joining with a diverse group of South Carolina businesses and organizations to use their collective networks and outreach efforts to get South Carolinians of all ages, backgrounds and political affiliations involved with the issues.

In addition to banding together with diverse organizations, Brown said during the primary season, the South Carolina Divided We Fail campaign will encompass additional coalition building to expand the network of organizations involved; a series of at least 20 local town hall meetings and candidate events on the issues; member engagement and volunteer mobilization, involving outreach to the more than 534,000 South Carolina AARP members; extensive newspaper, TV and radio advertising; plus online activities to engage the public, business and elected officials in the debate, and encourage public leaders to offer solutions.

Brown said the South Carolina campaign will be coordinated with national and other primary state efforts in tandem with a team of South Carolina Divided We Fail dedicated staff including two South Carolinians Samuel Tenenbaum and Dona Ayers.

Wiley summed up the effort by saying, “Congress and the President must act soon before our options become too few and the costs prohibitive. None of us can do this alone—this partnership is vital to the success of realized real change. Divided we fail, but, united we succeed.”

Divided We Fail, the most ambitious efforts in AARP’s 49-year history, is designed to engage the American people, elected officials and the business community to find broad-based, bi-partisan solutions to the most compelling domestic issues facing the nation—health care and the lifetime financial security of Americans.

More information about these efforts can be found at the newly launched website, and on the South Carolina AARP webpage at

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50 + educators; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.