Romney presses Perry on Social Security views

WASHINGTON Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:07pm EDT

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney speaks during a town hall meeting in Sun Lakes, Arizona September 14, 2011. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney speaks during a town hall meeting in Sun Lakes, Arizona September 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney stepped up his criticism of rival Rick Perry over Social Security on Wednesday, the day before a Florida debate where the issue is certain to be prominent.

During an appearance in Miami and in a flurry of campaign statements, Romney challenged Perry to spell out his plans for the future of the U.S. retirement program including how it would work at a state level.

Perry, the Texas governor who has moved past Romney to take the lead in polls in the 2012 Republican nominating race, has harshly criticized Social Security as a Ponzi scheme and a failure and said states should be able to opt out.

Romney questioned the viability of a state-based plan for Social Security, an issue that will be closely watched in Florida where senior citizens are a big and vital segment of the electorate.

"Would people choose states to live in, particularly as they get older, based on who had the best Social Security plan?" Romney asked about Perry's plan during a Miami town hall event. "Would you have people move around trying to find better Social Security or a better deal?"

Romney and some Republican strategists have said Perry's comments about the popular Social Security program would be a liability in a 2012 general election against President Barack Obama.

Romney's fresh attacks hinted at his possible strategy in Thursday's Republican debate in Orlando, Florida. The differences between Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Perry on Social Security have been a prominent theme in the last two debates.

The Romney campaign listed six questions for Perry on how the responsibility for Social Security could be shifted to states, including how it would be administered, whether states would be obligated to offer a program and whether they would be responsible for the program's unfunded liabilities.

"This election is about choices and voters -- and voters will have the opportunity to choose between Mitt Romney, who wants to fix and strengthen Social Security for the next generation, and Rick Perry, who wants to dismantle it," Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a statement.

Perry has responded to the attacks by saying he would preserve benefits for those currently in or almost ready to enter the program, but he wanted to see a national conversation begin about its future.

Perry's campaign has noted Romney's own criticism of the Social Security program in his book, which compared those managing Social Security to criminals.

"Now Mr. Romney is again sounding like a Democrat, distorting the truth and trying to scare senior citizens," Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan said.

"Mr. Romney has been running for president full time for nearly five years, and has failed to issue a specific plan on Social Security," he said.

"Rick Perry and other conservatives are courageous enough to be honest about federal spending and entitlements, whether Mr. Romney and the liberals like it or not."

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (5)
cont wrote:
Romney want’s to talk about choices so he says people have a choice of him an Perry when there are 7 other people running even though the main stream media would also have you think otherwise. But let me say if their is one candidate who really want’s to provide a soulution to Social Secruity it is Ron Paul and he has the voting record to prove it. He has clearley stated his stance and soultion many times. Eventually Social Security will run dry and go bankrupt and then what will happen people will be screwed and will riot. The reality of it is you or I will never ever see the amount of money we pay into SS back it’s just not going to happen I’m loseing money by paying into SS and on top of it all I’m forced to we all are. Social Security needs to be phased out over time let the young opt out of it while people who are already drawing or near drawing keep on the course of reciveing SS so it will be phased out over time while the money you would normally pay into SS will go into your pocket so you will have more MONEY!. That’s Ron Paul’s plan for SS sumed up. Romney and Perry do not have any solid plans for SS they are playing on it to get votes they will say what they need to to get votes. I don’t want to pay into SS I will not benefit from it that’s just the truth, there are just things as a 401K plan and other things to do if I wish to do those things that can give me money for later in life.

Sep 21, 2011 4:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
4ngry4merican wrote:
So Romney asks a very legitimate question about what Perry’s specific plan is for Social Security and he responds by calling him a liberal Democrat, as if that’s some kind of an answer.
And the scary part is, half of Americans are stupid enough to fall for it.

Sep 21, 2011 4:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
fromthecenter wrote:
If the republicans put forth anyone but Mitt Romney they are even crazier then I have given them credit for. I’m not fan of Romney, but compared to the rest of current bunch of looney toons he is a re-incarnation of their savior/prophet Ronny.

Sep 21, 2011 5:11pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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