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Presidential Candidates To Skip Disability Forum

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President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will both send surrogates to represent them later this week at a one-of-a-kind presidential forum focused on disability issues.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., will speak on behalf of Romney and Edward M. Kennedy, Jr. will represent Obama at the National Forum on Disability Issues this Friday in Columbus, Ohio, event organizers said.

McMorris Rodgers has a son with Down syndrome and has made disability issues a centerpiece of her work in Congress. Kennedy is the son of the late U.S. senator and serves on the board of the American Association of People with Disabilities.

The forum is sponsored by more than 80 organizations from across the country and is being promoted as the only event of the presidential campaign to exclusively address issues of interest to the disability community. McMorris Rodgers and Kennedy will each appear for 30 minutes to offer their party’s vision and answer questions presented by Frank Sesno, a former CNN White House correspondent, who will moderate the event.

In addition to the presidential candidates, those vying to represent Ohio in the U.S. Senate were also invited to speak at the forum. Thus far, Democratic state Rep. Nancy Garland has confirmed that she will speak on behalf of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

A full house of 500 is expected at the event and more than 2,000 people have already registered to watch a live webcast, organizers say.

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Comments (11 Responses)

  1. Laurie says:

    While I think both of these individuals are excellent choices to promote improving the lives of those with disabilities, I am disappointed that neither the President nor the candidate wishing to be President, Governor Romney, will participate themselves. I think Rep. McMorris and Mr. Kennedy may set forth their own views rather than the candidates’. We’ll see if they have the authority to make promises on the candidates’ behalf.

  2. fairlady68 says:

    If I am lucky enough to win a trip to the last “Dinner With Barack” this week, I will be sure to give him an earful! I suspect Romney would be a lost cause on this issue.

  3. Thomas says:

    Perhaps this is why I didn’t attend any rallies for either candidate…

  4. GARY B. RUBIN says:

    they need a flockin clue why must our rights and well being be jepajised?
    people need to leave our well being alone aspecialy govement romney and his running mate just want to make more trouble then its worth.

  5. Ryan Kempf says:

    I’m disappointed that people with disabilities get treat like second best I hate that feeling

  6. Mrs. Eileen Curras widow to Hernandez, WWII says:

    Unfortunately Presidential Candidates skip the Disability Forum and this attitude does not solve anything for the community.

  7. Mom of Princess says:

    What a disappointment that neither candidate will attend. Their actions speak louder than any words from surrogates to me.

  8. Mark Johnson says:

    I’m 61, been using a wheelchair for 41, involved in the movement 35, 29 of that with ADAPT. This Friday’s Forum and the next 42 days could become the most important elections related civic engagement period in our young movement, refer to the speech at the end of this message.

    -will it draw a large audience, choir and media (the sponsor list is growing, webcast registrations are growing, there are 638 LIKES on Facebook and cyber space is starting to light up)
    -will the room be stuffed
    -will issues like Olmstead and Medicaid be discussed and become part of the campaign discourse going forward
    -will the contrast between the parties and candidates be analyzed (anybody doing a side by side) and widely distributed
    -will disability directed fund-raising campaigns reach their goals, Obama, $560,000, Romney, ?
    -will the disability community finally secure a sit at the elections table
    -will people be wearing 3E Love’s Special Edition T-Shirt
    -will the disability vote mobilize like never before

    But even in your wheelchairs, don’t you give up. We cannot forget 50 years ago when our backs were against the wall, Roosevelt was in a wheelchair. I would rather have Roosevelt in a wheelchair than Reagan and Bush on a horse. Don’t you surrender and don’t you give up. Don’t surrender and don’t give up!

    FYI, July 20, 1988, Paul Kirk, Chair of the DNC at that time, held a press conference and pledged accessibility would be a selection criteria for future host cities. The Convention venue, the old (been replaced with a new one since) Omni, wasn’t very accessible, access to DNC and State delegation sponsored events around ATL had been overlooked, DNC staff even proposed delegates with physical (mobility) disabilities be grouped and not sit with there delegations, etc.. Delegates with disabilities threatened a protest before Jesse’s speech, met with him before his speech, ie. the above reference in his speech.

  9. Brad says:

    I sent both of their election campaigns an email letting them know my disappointment. I recommend you do as well

  10. Dadvocate says:

    Hold the criticism of surrogates attending this glorified photo op rather than the candidates, folks. The organizers (not sponsors) of this forum appeared to have a whole ton of wishful thinking in their plans versus any sort of commitment from the candidates before they launched this effort. So much so that they wanted potential attendees to pressure the campaigns to get the candidates to show up, which struck me as odd. I see the sponsor list, which are solid organizations, but haven’t a clue from the website or e mailings who is putting this together. The whole thing strikes me as a last minute “if you build it they will come” strategy. With only 40 days left to the election and one of the candidates holding down a day job, I am totally unsurprised that both candidates are unable to appear in person. If you want to see their positions on disability issues they are easily found on campaign websites.

  11. Terry Absire Riley says:

    Extremely disappointed that as much time as they are spending here in Columbus, Ohio, that neither one of them found it to be of any importance to represent their OWN views on disability. From what I understand, this is the only one scheduled to discuss this much needed attention and finding that now my voice has to be heard loud and clear with our State Senator Sherrod Brown and respect the fact that he is having Rep. Nancy Garland to speak on his behalf. This makes me happy. If you can’t attend, please tune in from 12:30 – 3:30 PM EST. Please, I ask of each and every one of you, let your voice be heard. God Bless American and God Bless our troops making sure that we still have the right to freedom of speech and the right to vote.

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