10/11/2012 03:49 pm ET

Judy Biggert Slams AARP As Partisan, Bails From Debate

Illinois Republican Congresswoman Judy Biggert has pulled out of the AARP-sponsored debate against Democratic rival Bill Foster saying the organization couldn't "act as a neutral arbiter."

AARP, perhaps best known for its lifestyle magazine geared toward the silver-haired set, organization claims to be non-partisan. Biggert, meanwhile, maintains the group "impugned her record" after the logo and quotes from the AARP were used in attack ads against her. The most recent ad, released yesterday by the House Majority PAC, contains a pull quote attributed to the AARP saying "Increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare's promise of secure health coverage" under Biggert's name.

Biggert released this statement Thursday through her manager:

“We regret that we were compelled to withdraw from next week’s AARP debate as the organization has proven itself unable to act as a neutral arbiter. AARP was cited, and its logo used, by no less than three liberal organizations in mail and on television to attack Judy Biggert and impugn her record on issues vital to seniors. When contacted on this matter, AARP officials made it clear that they were unwilling to stop this use of their logo and imprimatur. As a result, we severely doubted the ability of the organization to act as a [sic] impartial and objective host in this forum."

Heather Heppner, AARP of Illinois associate state director for communications, told the Sun-Times, "We were informed by the Biggert campaign that they were withdrawing. Certainly, we're disappointed that we cannot continue with the debate."

Foster's camp has wasted no time jumping on Biggert's decision to drip from the debate. In a statement relayed by Fox Chicago, Foster says:

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

In Biggert's Thursday statement, her team slamed Foster for a similar move, saying:

"Just last week, Congressman Foster refused to participate in a candidate forum hosted by one of the 11th Congressional District’s largest retirement communities, where he might have faced tough questions on his vote to cut $816 billion from Medicare, or his support for cutting Social Security benefits."

In response, Patrick Brown, Foster's campaign manager, told HuffPost on Thursday that "Congressman Foster receives a lot of requests for debates in many forums," and indicated that any debate he did not participate in would be due to a scheduling conflict.

"Bill would be glad to debate Congresswoman Biggert anywhere if she'd like to have a conversation about her decision to end Medicare guaranteed benefits," Brown said.

The debate, originally scheduled for Oct. 16, was to be broadcast by live by WLS from the Union League Club of Chicago.