Biggert questions AARP neutrality, quits debate

  • Republican U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, left, opposes Democrat Bill Foster in the 11th Congressional District in the Nov. 6 election.

    Republican U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, left, opposes Democrat Bill Foster in the 11th Congressional District in the Nov. 6 election.

Updated 10/11/2012 5:33 AM

Veteran Republican U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert has dropped out of a radio debate with Democratic challenger Bill Foster that was set for Oct. 16, saying a co-sponsor didn't appear neutral.

At issue for Biggert is information from AARP and the organization's logo appearing in liberal-sponsored television advertising and mailers that attacked her. Biggert announced her withdrawal from the debate in a statement Wednesday night.


WLS 890-AM was co-sponsoring the one-hour debate with AARP. WLS morning co-host Bruce Wolf was supposed to moderate, AARP spokeswoman Heather Heppner said.

Heppner said AARP is nonpartisan and disappointed Biggert won't debate Foster. Biggert, in part, questioned whether AARP can be a "neutral arbiter."

Biggert, a Hinsdale resident, is seeking re-election Nov. 6 in the new 11th Congressional District, which stretches from Aurora in the west, runs east through DuPage County and dips south toward Joliet. She's been in Congress since 1999.

Foster, of Naperville, served in Congress from March 2008 to January 2011 after defeating Republican Jim Oberweis in a special election.

One TV ad from last week, titled "Judy Biggert: Bankroll" and paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, attacked her for purportedly favoring tax cuts for the wealthy and "removing Medicare's promise of secure health coverage." AARP's logo appeared in the spot, along with a note citing the organization for information.

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But Heppner said AARP takes public positions on issues and can't control how the information is used by others.

"AARP is an organization that frequently gets cited by think tanks and political candidates without our knowledge," Heppner said.

In a statement, Foster criticized Biggert for pulling out of the debate that would have been on WLS radio from 6 to 7 p.m. Oct. 16.

"Congresswoman Biggert has broken her commitment to seniors yet again, and now refuses to explain why she voted to slash their hard-earned benefits, " Foster said.

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