This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 11, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Factor follow-up" segment tonight, as we reported, the nation's largest senior citizen organization, the AARP, has drifted sharply left recently, as evidenced by its selection of Harry Belafonte as person of the year.
And as you may know, earlier this week, Mr. Belafonte called President Bush "the world's greatest terrorist." Belafonte did this in Venezuela.
Now the AARP has issued this statement, "To our dismay, Mr. Belafonte has made reckless and irresponsible statements about the president of the United States which we neither support nor condone." The AARP would not appear this evening, but joining us now from Atlanta is Jerry Barton, the founder of the National Association of Senior Citizens, an alternative to the AARP.
Is - are - yours is a conservative group? Is it conservative?
JERRY BARTON, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR SENIOR CONCERNS: Yes, we are. Yes, we are, Bill. We are definitely a conservative alternative to AARP and announce ourselves as such.
As you know, AARP doesn't identify themselves as a liberal organization. However since their inception, they've remained very far on the liberally side. And very much evidence of that is Harry Belafonte being their person of a year, which just doesn't make a lot of sense.
O'REILLY: OK. Yes, the AARP claims it's not partisan and everything. And now they're shocked and dismayed at Harry Belafonte's remarks, which he's been making for the past 20 years. So I don't know why they're shocked and dismayed. Actually, they didn't say shocked. They said they were dismayed.
But I mean, the guy is a notorious far left bomb thrower. And when I saw in a magazine that they were honoring man of the year, I said, now look, this isn't going to do anybody any good on — as far as people who are nonidealogical.
Look, if you're conservative, you go to the organization. If you're left, I guess you go to the AARP, even they don't admit it. It's clear they are left.
But I'm worried about all the folks in the middle, who just want their discount coupons, their life insurance — you make life easier for them, because that's really what the AARP is selling. They're not selling that ideology. It's kind of stealth ideology.
BARTON: Well, one thing we learned, we did a survey early on and learned that the three main reasons people join AARP is number one, they think they're supposed to. And that's sort of an automatic thing. I'm reaching 50, so I'm supposed to join AARP.
Number two, it's for the travel discounts.
Number three, for insurance. And that was not a very sophisticated survey, but was one that we can rely on. And people have generally no idea where their ideology is. They have no idea where.
BARTON: .where they're left-leanings are.
And Harry Belafonte, it's no secret to anyone in America how far left and how anti-American this man's been forever. I mean, he's a nut case. And I'm amazed that anybody would represent him in any way as being positive. I'm amazed that UNICEF still has him representing them. And certainly, that AARP that ride on a limb.
But you know, they've also given honor to Richard Gere and Robert Redford, and Paul Newman. And these are great actors. I love watching them, but they're very, very far on the left side. And that's where they are.
O'REILLY: But they did feature Condoleezza Rice on the cover. Look, the AARP has got it. They understand that they're going to lose membership. And they have. This week, they've lost.
BARTON: They certainly have.
BARTON: Unfortunately for us, they have.
O'REILLY: Yes, and people are coming over to you, more conservative people.
O'REILLY: But again, I'm interested in the regular folks, you know, not the ideological folks. And the regular folks are sitting there. And I don't know whether the AARP is good for them or bad for them, because I get a lot of letters saying look, I don't like their politics, but I do get the discounts to go where I want. And they do make my life easier. And I said OK, you know, if that that's what they do, that's what they do.
BARTON: Bill, we have an aging America. 85 million Americans now are 50 years or older. And by 2010, that's going to be around 120 to 125 million Americans.
Issues affecting those aging people, which includes me, are not travel discounts and certainly not belonging to an organization because of their political ideology.
But the issues really facing them are what's going to happen with Social Security, what's going to happen with Medicare, what's going to happen with Medicaid, tort reform and other issues that make a big difference in their lives.
Social Security has to be reformed. Something has to happen, so people can create wealth.
I'm maxed out on Social Security. If that's all I have to live on, I'm below the poverty level in the United States. And who on earth wants to see.
BARTON: .this many millions of Americans reaching that category?
O'REILLY: Well, you know, the AARP says it is an effective advocate for senior citizens in America. I think that's true to some extent.
But their ideology, I think - I agree with your opening statement. You say you're a conservative group. They say they're a liberal group. And let everybody go where they want to go.
Mr. Barton, thanks very much.
O'REILLY: Go ahead.
BARTON: We know that the majority of Americans truly would be moderate probably.
BARTON: But I think if you really talk to them - talk about the real issues, it's easier for them to make their mind.
O'REILLY: Yes, they don't like this Belafonte.
BARTON: He's left or right.
Plenty more to come.
BARTON: Absolutely not.
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