The campaign to send State Sen. Donald Norcross (D-5 of Camden) to Congress launched another attack against Republican Candidate Garry Cobb on Tuesday, when more than a dozen senior citizens gathered at Camden County Republicans' campaign headquarters to protest his recent comments about how to look out for seniors' interests.
Cobb, however, said his words are being misconstrued and manipulated.
In a short protest Tuesday morning, a handful of the seniors spoke out about their support of Norcross and called comments from Cobb's website, which the AARP included in its annual voters guide, demeaning.
In the guide, the AARP said it was unable to find public comments from Cobb, a former pro-football player and sports radio host, to answer their questions on how he would protect Social Security or how he would strengthen Medicare.
For the guide's question asking how each candidate would help senior citizens live independently and save for the future, they included a comment from his website that said, "We will need to look out for and help our senior citizen neighbors. As community members, we should make sure that they're okay before we leave for work each morning, and we should develop the habit of checking on them when we come home from work."
While seniors on Tuesday compared the statement to how their neighbors "treat their dogs," Cobb said in a phone interview that his words were being misunderstood and that he would not support any measures to defund Medicare or Social Security.
"There's no way I would have anything to do with taking away things they invested in their whole lives," said Cobb, who was not at the Republican headquarters on Tuesday. "Anyone who says that is ridiculous."
He said there's a need to "cut down on a lot of the fraud" in the system, but that "we definitely don't need to be cutting our supplies to our seniors."
The comments on his website were referring to the need for people to be good neighbors to seniors, Cobb said, adding he's specifically interested in promoting home care treatments for seniors on Medicare as opposed to residential treatment facilities.
"We could be more cost-effective, but more importantly, [home care] is more humane," said Cobb.
Tuesday's protest marks the third event since the end of August that attacks comments Cobb has made in both recent media appearances and public remarks in the past. The previous two press conferences featured Democratic politiciansslamming Cobb on his views on women and social programs.
Some of the seniors gathered at the Camden County Republican Headquarters on Tuesday said they haven't heard much about either campaign, while others said they've been following Norcross' political career since it began. All, however, expressed their support for Norcross' candidacy and fear Social Security would be threatened by a Republican win for the 1st Congressional District.
"We're all Norcross fans, very much so," said Kate Tambussi of Cherry Hill.
"Republicans, they want to privatize [Social Security.] They're out of their minds, and if they want to cut benefits they're out of their mind. Our seniors cannot take it," said Sonny DiSabato of Pennsauken, prior to the crowd cheering Norcross' first name. "[Norcross] is a fighter. That's why I'm supporting him. It's going to be good for us."
Seniors Pat Bennett and Marian O'Connor said they both live in a Mt. Ephraim complex for seniors and are interested in local politics, and were drawn to Tuesday's event after being invited by a friend.
"[Democrats] do a lot of things for senior citizens," said Bennett, who also said she wasn't a part of any specific political organization involved with Tuesday's protest.
"Not at this time," said Bennett. "But I think I'm going to start."