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Older voters in Tampa Bay share what matters to them in presidential election

The explosive nature of this year's presidential race is fitting for the last election in which baby boomers will be the biggest kid on the bloc.

Maybe that likelihood is the reason that voters born between 1946 and 1964 are so strongly opinionated on the issues that are important to them in this year's election.

Since 1996, baby boomers have been the largest segment of the voting population, peaking at some 72.9 million in 2004, according to the nonpartisan Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C.

The Greatest Generation, now 71 and older, and Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1980, have never gotten within 10 million of boomers in the number of eligible voters.

But millennials, born between 1981 and 1998, are closing in.

Having already surpassed boomers in sheer numbers, millennials are expected to soon become the generation with the largest number of eligible voters. This year, each segment represents 31 percent of the voting-age population.

The race for president is tight among older voters. In a nationwide survey by Pew Research last month, 45 percent of registered voters 50 and older supported or leaned toward Republican Donald Trump; 40 percent Democrat Hillary Clinton; 6.5 percent Libertarian Gary Johnson; and 2 percent Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Survey participants were given a list of issues to rank, and those 50-64 selected the economy as most important, followed by terrorism, foreign policy, health care and gun policy (tie), immigration and Social Security (tie), and Supreme Court appointments. Among those 65 and older, terrorism was the top issue, followed by the economy, foreign policy, health care, Social Security, gun policy and a tie between immigration and Supreme Court appointments.

Several Tampa Bay area voters 50 and older interviewed recently talked with the Times about the candidates and some key issues.

Here are excerpts from comments by seven of them.

Donald Lloyd, 66, owner of Diversified Consulting LLC, St. Petersburg

I am concerned about a number of issues: national security, Social Security, the Affordable Care Act, climate control and more. Our political system may not be as democratic and secure as we'd like to think, but it has worked.

Which candidate I vote for will be easy since I've had personal dealings with Donald Trump . . . I was burned by his bogus university and real estate training businesses.

I regret we do not have stronger candidates, but for sure my vote will not be for Donald Trump.

Donna Jean Crocker, 70, of Plant City, owner of Donna Jean Realty, Donna Jean Corp., Florida Mobile Homes on Sale and Florida Mortgage Services

The top four issues for me in voting for a new president are:

1: Safety. We need a president that understands that ISIS is a real threat and do what we have to do to protect our citizens.

2: The economy. There are some hard decisions for our new president to make but necessary to attempt to bring forth economic growth for the betterment of all classes and hopefully prevent another "recession." Need someone that understands business and has hired people — instead of a total politician.

3: Health care that will work for everyone.

4: Veterans. Take good care of the people who have served us to maintain freedom.

That leaves me one candidate: Donald Trump. God bless America.

Christine Crosby, 71, and Jonathan Micocci, 64, of St. Petersburg, publishers of the online GRAND Magazine, a lifestyle periodical for grandparents (Note: Hillary Clinton is the cover of the September issue.)

We vote for our grandkids.

No need of ours compares with what we want for them: a just society, education, freedom, opportunity, peace and an environment that isn't trying to kill them.

Believing Aristotle correct when he said, "We are what we repeatedly do," we should ignore what candidates say and look instead at how they have spent their lives.

Hillary Clinton has supported families lifelong. She is smart, informed and willing to work with her adversaries for the common good. She has recovered from mistakes, overcome hardships and stood up to bullies.

Donald Trump is the most dishonest politician ever analyzed, and even that is flattery, because he has no record beyond his barely coherent monologues. His business resume is a trail of tears, but for others, not for Trump.

We will vote for Hillary for our grandkids.

Ernesto Camara, 54, owner of Interior Designs by Ernesto, St. Petersburg

I care about many issues: Medicare, Social Security, the Affordable Care Act, veterans, immigration, climate change — and, especially, gun reform and basic human rights, including those of the LGBTQ community. I am a gay man and have been very fortunate not to experience the discrimination some of my friends have had to deal with.

However, the level of hatred is rising, and not just for the LGBTQ community. For every minority. The growing number of racists and bigots is taking us back to the 1950s.

I am a registered Democrat but that was not always the case. I, like most other Cuban-Americans, was a Republican. I didn't turn against the party, I turned against what the party has turned into. The unprecedented level of disrespect that President Obama has endured for the last eight years is a disgrace to our country.

Leah Conway, 69, retired social worker, New Port Richey

Democrat or Republican. It doesn't really matter. Big government or small government. That doesn't really matter either. What matters is the freedom to choose and the freedom of the marketplace.

Given who we have to choose for president, I think Donald Trump will do a better job getting health care for veterans. He'll do a better job of getting everybody health care — and he won't be taking the money of taxpaying citizens to give it to illegal residents and people who have done nothing to earn that money.

I can't stand Obamacare, which I think Hillary is going to support. Trump is going to make it more of a competitive marketplace.

Trump is stronger about national security. He wants to build a wall between us and Mexico. He wants to fix visa programs so we know who's coming in. . . . He represents me more than Hillary.

John Conway, 68, retired Air Force, retired U.S. Postal Service, New Port Richey

My big concern is the fact that the federal government is involved in things other than things the Constitution says they should be involved in: health care, welfare, education.

Trump is my choice. He supports immigration reform. Hillary is part of the issues that have plagued our country, loss of jobs.

Climate change is called weather. We're in a place where it is somewhat warmer but it will change back. Climate change is one of the biggest farces I have ever heard.

Contact Patti Ewald at pagewald@hotmail.com.

Older voters in Tampa Bay share what matters to them in presidential election 09/26/16 [Last modified: Monday, September 26, 2016 2:29pm]
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