Gov Mitt Romney and Gov Rick Perry spar at the GOP presidential debate held at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA on September 7, 2011. (Photo AP/Jae C. Hong)
It’s the hot issue politicos are buzzing about…
At the GOP presidential debate this week, Rick Perry’s comments that “social security is a ponzi scheme” and Mitt Romney’s response has caused more than a few eyebrows to knit together. The subject will surely be pursued at the next debate on Monday in Tampa, FL, and may well be a defining issue throughout the entire campaign. For these reasons, we bring you a few opinions we’ve heard in the last couple of days.
Former NH governor John Sununu offered his critique of the debate (and Obama’s jobs creation speech):
Former New Hampshire governor John Sununu never lacked for candor, not in his home state nor when he served as chief of staff in the George H.W. Bush administration.
In a telephone interview, he told me that he was “a little surprised” Texas Gov. Rick Perry wasn’t better prepared on the Social Security question during Wednesday’s Reagan Library debate. “I got a little worried for him. If he is the nominee, the Democrats are going to have a silver bullet. I would have thought he’d have a strategy to mend what’s in the book,” he said in reference to Perry’s “Fed Up!”
Sununu said he has narrowed down his nominee choice to Perry or Mitt Romney and will make up his mind in mid- to late October after a series of debates. Why not former Utah governor Jon Huntsman? “He’s too in love with President Obama,” he said bluntly. “He’s got to get the courage to . . . join the rest of the Republicans to talk about the problems this president has caused.” He also found Huntsman’s remark on “nation-building at home” to be “ridiculous.”
Former NH Governor John Sununu
As for President Obama’s jobs speech, Sununu thought the somewhat-angry tone stemmed from a desire to “have enough energy in the speech. It was an ‘I’m back from Martha’s Vineyard’ attitude.”
As for the New Hampshire primary, Sununu explained that voters in the state “are willing to sacrifice a little on personal ideology” in order to find the most electable candidate, because they are “petrified of this president.” Sununu warned the presidential candidates that voters there are looking for substance. “There has to be sufficient detail to contrast with the policies that haven’t worked,” he said.
Governor Chris Christie on ‘ponzi scheme’ Perry:
September 8, 2011
LAMBERTVILLE – Gov. Chris Christie sides with his northern – not southern – neighbor in the latest prez flap over Social Security.
In last night’s presidential debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry called Social Security a Ponzi scheme and a failure, setting up a flashpoint moment with former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, who said the federal program wasn’t a failure but needs to be fixed.
“I’m going to let them have their fight,” Christie told reporters here, “but in general it’s incorrect to say that Social Security is a failure. I would disagree with that statement.”
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann had this to say:
September 9, 2011
Without naming names but clearly targeting Rick Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann told Radio Iowa that lawmakers have to “keep faith” with current Social Security beneficiaries.
Said Bachmann: “That’s wrong for any candidate to make senior citizens believe that they should be nervous about something they have come to count on.
During an appearance on FOX & Friends Weekend this morning, Mike Huckabee was asked for his opinion on Perry’s ‘ponzi scheme’ stance and Governor Romney’s position at the presidential debate. Several MRC supporters, including myself, looked for the video. We found it, but the Romney segment was not included. In a nutshell, Huckabee basically said Perry’s wording was wrong and that Mitt had it right.
Today On FOX News Watch, conservative radio talk show host Tammy Bruce and Democratic campaign consultant Doug Schoen both agreed that Perry’s words on social security at the debate, and the impression he left, was detrimental to him. Schoen said it was definitely an issue for Perry – possibly lethal. Bruce commented that it was the impression Perry left – that people won’t elect a bully.
In his book Fed Up, Rick Perry questions the existence of social security:
“Perry Is Saying Things In This Campaign That No Presidential Candidate Has Said In Decades, Not The Least Of Which Is An Unrelenting Attack On Social Security.” (Paul Burka, “Not Like Other Politicians,” Texas Monthly, 8/30/11)
Despite his campaign’s efforts to separate the candidate and his position, Perry’s approach to social security is clear…
Perry does not believe social security should exist. He asks: “Why Is The Federal Government Even In The Pension Program…? Let The States Do It.” PERRY: “When you look at Social Security, it’s broke. … Get it back to the states. Why is the federal government even in the pension program or the health care delivery program? Let the states do it. … That, I will suggest to you, is one of the ways this federal government can get out of our business, save a lot of money and get back to that Constitutional way of doing business in those enumerated powers that they’re supposed to have.” (MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” 11/5/10)
• Perry: “By Any Measure, Social Security Is A Failure.” (Rick Perry, Fed Up, P. 62, 2010)
• “Rick Perry Describes Social Security As A ‘Violent’ Attack On Core American Values.” (Maggie Haberman And Alexander Burns, “Perry Book A Treasure Trove For Foes,” Politico, 9/2/11)
• Perry: “I Challenge Anybody To Stand Up And Defend The Social Security Program That We Have Today.” (Andrew Romano, “Rick Perry On The Record,” The Daily Beast, 8/12/11)
Perry: “We Must … Get This Government Back To The Limited Form That Our Founding Fathers Sought. Let The States [Decide] How To Run The Pensions.” PERRY: “There’s a number of things in that book that will strike Americans as horrifying. And we must, as a people, get put back in the box. Get this government back to the limited form that our founding fathers sought. Let the states, whether it is how to run Medicaid, how to run the pensions.” (Fox’s “On The Record With Greta Van Susteren,” 11/8/10)
Regarding social security, Perry doesn’t “think our Founding Fathers … were thinking about a Federally operated program of pensions…” PERRY: “I don’t think our founding fathers when they were putting the term “general welfare” in there were thinking about a federally operated program of pensions nor a federally operated program of health care. What they clearly said was that those were issues that the states need to address. Not the federal government.” (Andrew Romano, “Rick Perry On The Record,” The Daily Beast, 8/12/11)
Perry hasn’t “backed off anything” in his book:
In Fed Up!, Perry says social security is in place “at the expense of respect for the Constitution.” “Social Security is something that we’ve been forced to accept for more than 70 years now. […] at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government.” (Rick Perry, Fed Up!, 2010, p. 50)
Perry: “I haven’t backed off anything in my book.” “[Perry] threw cold water on his own campaign’s efforts to portray his [Social Security] position in a more tempered light. ‘I haven’t backed off anything in my book. So read the book again and get it right,’ he said.” (Michael Muskal, “Rick Perry Sticks To Claim That Social Security Is A Scam,” Los Angeles Times, 8/29/11)
Check out Governor Romney’s new flier here.
► Jayde Wyatt