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Seniors supporting Obama talk Medicare and more at the DNC

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Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has more support among seniors than President Barack Obama. In our August 2012, NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Romney led Obama among seniors, aged 65 and older, 49 percent to 41 percent.

At the Democratic National Convention, senior citizens explained why they prefer Obama even as their peers favor Romney.

"They say people become more conservative as they get older," said Nan Riley, 81, above, of Marion County, Iowa, "but if you're liberal to start you don't get all the way."

Riley started out as a Rockefeller Republican, socially liberal and favoring balanced budgets: "I've been a Democrat since I went to a Republican caucus, I forget which year, but a woman nominated Pat Robertson for president, and she was serious about it. And I knew it wasn't my party anymore. And that's when the religious right started taking over the [Republican] party."

She said Medicare is a big concern for senior citizens, partly because "There's Alzheimer's around the corner for many of us, and that's more frightening than death. And it's an expensive disease, because you can't be on your own."

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"Barack Obama has done more than other presidents for veterans," said delegate Henry Hooper, 73, above, a former state commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States in Tennessee. A Green Beret who served in Vietnam, Hooper talked about the negative experiences some Vietnam veterans had after returning home from the war: "When we came home we were talked about, some were spit on, called baby killers. We don't want what happened to us to happen to any other vets, ever," adding that "the Democratic party is addressing entitlements, doing what's in the best interest of veterans."

As for why he thinks other people in his age group favor Romney, Hooper talked about waiting rooms: "Doctors' and dentists' offices all got FOX News on. So you sit there and listen to misinformation, things that are not true: that Obama's going to remove social security, Medicare, if he gets another term. I'm talking about middle class, people that have health insurance," via Medicare, and "the threat is that it's going to be taken away from them by Obama. They're using fear and emotional tactics to sway people who have not looked into the situation."

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William J. Bonner, 73, above, is a Democrat in Meridian, Idaho, where there aren't many. "You could fit all of us into a phone booth," said the retired attorney, who's also been a Navy officer, judge and social worker. An alternate delegate to the DNC, Bonner started in politics by working in Oklahoma for John F. Kennedy's campaign in 1960. "I think Democrats care for each other, communities and not discriminating on the basis of color, creed, religion or LGBT orientation. Republicans favor the economically advantaged."

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Carol Wigent, 69, and Cathy Vodak, 63, above, are step-sisters who grew up in Michigan. Vodak said a formative experience came in the late 1950s when their family came to depend on welfare: "My father lost his job in the auto industry because of Romney's father," when AMC president George Romney closed Hudson Motor. "We lost our house. I remember my mother not eating so we could have potatoes and applesauce," said Vodak.

"Every good thing: civil rights, social security, Medicare, came from Democrats," said Wigent, adding that she supports Obama's health care reform. "We have to pay for every sick person anyway when they end up in the emergency room."

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"Look, you don't like Barack Obama. Think of him like old age: what's the alternative?" That's what Trudy L. Mason, 70, above, says to senior citizens she knows, mostly Democrats, who are thinking about not voting in the coming election. A state committeewoman from the Upper East Side of New York City, Mason says: "It's about the economy. There are a lot of seniors who worry about their financial state. Their finances have suffered so that it's not just about Medicare. It's their life savings. What will we have left for our kids?"

See more visual coverage from the DNC in PhotoBlog and in this slideshow.

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