AAHSA kicks off spring conference with some 'hardball'

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Providers: You really want to know how to make an impression in Washington? When you lobby your congressman, type your appeal in a short, concise letter on business stationery. Those were words of advice Monday from TV journalist Chris Matthews, keynote speaker at the annual spring conference of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

"The best lobbyists, the smartest lobbyists, are dignified," said the host of Hardball with Chris Matthews, a political talk show on MSNBC. He offered his remarks in a lighthearted conversation with AAHSA President and CEO Larry Minnix following a speech he delivered about the political landscape. The audience laughed as Matthews, in his typical blustery fashion, continued to speak while Minnix tried to interrupt him with questions.

Matthews added that congressmen like to do favors, so approaching them with a task they can accomplish will endear you to them. He also offered a few wisecracks about gifts that people try to give lawmakers. Don't give them a trophy that they will easily discard, Matthews advised. Instead, present them with a practical gift, such as a vase (perhaps with the name of your organization in small letters) that they can use in their home. During his speech prior to his conversation with Minnix, Matthews also spoke about the political landscape and the personalities of the presidential contenders. He deemed Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

Matthews kicked off a three-day conference held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington. More than 1,000 attendees, including exhibitors, are at the conference. Education sessions and an exhibit hall highlighted the first day. Congressional visits that highlight the spring show will take place today.