DES MOINES, Iowa -- Credit unions were hardly taking a back seat for the Iowa Caucuses with employees and volunteers joining the AARP last week, actively promoting financial education to the presidential candidates at campaign stops over the last month.
"Let me tell you those credit union people have been wonderful to work with since the financial education is so very much on their agenda," said Peter Jeffries, AARP's senior campaign coordinator and Iowa head of the "Divided We Fail" project promoting money management and financial literacy.
The Iowa Credit Union League said it managed to recruit numerous CU staffers from across the state to climb aboard an AARP bus appearing at campaign rallies and town hall meetings to talk up "Divided We Fail" with both candidates and the public.
The league has been among a group of Iowa labor, business, and consumer groups which have their members appear in bright red T-shirts often asking questions of the candidates during the rallies. The AARP campaign, though continuing in Iowa, now moves onto other primary states including New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and Florida, officials said.
Ever since it hooked up with AARP last spring following a series of meetings, the Iowa League said it promoted the financial literacy effort in newsletters and on a Divided We Fail site carried on its Web site.
"We were gratified so many credit union volunteers were willing to participate," said Julie Vande Hoef, the league's director of government affairs for its PolicyWorks subsidiary.
Jeffries of AARP lauded CUs for their active role in rallies starting last summer noting that Iowa CU leaders were "engaged from the start with our financial education and health care program." He said AARP chapters in other states, which run Divided We Fail, assemble different consumer and labor groups but he was unsure if leagues elsewhere had been contacted or were taking part.
"Each AARP group has its own ground game," said an AARP spokesman in its Washington headquarters.
On its Web site, the league promoted the AARP effort under an "Iowa Campaign Observer" banner that presented the latest news on the rallies.
"Over the past two weeks the Divided We Fail Bus has been crisscrossing the state stopping at senior centers, candidate events and coffee shops to promote and distribute the new candidate side-by-side on the issues of health care and financial security," said a December posting.
"The bus was met with warm receptions in Grinnell, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, Dubuque, Davenport, Des Moines, Newton, Sioux City, Spencer, Mason City, and Johnston and over the past two weeks you might have seen 'Champions for Change' unloading the bus to attend events" featuring both Democratic and GOP candidates, read the message.
At all of these events, "volunteers were recognized and typically acknowledged directly by the candidates," said the league adding as a postscript, "Great Work!"