Social Security likely to be big issue for Perry in FL debate

September 13, 2011 9:33:28 AM PDT
Governor Rick Perry will once again take on his GOP contenders in a televised debate on Monday night. And after being the self-proclaimed "pinata" of last week's debate in California, can he expect more of the same?

Perry is likely to be the target because a new poll finds Perry leads Mitt Romney by 12 points, but Perry remains flat. Another poll asking Republicans who can beat Obama showed Perry ahead by 16 points over Romney.

Romney said since last debate that Perry is "unelectable" because of his Social Security views and it's likely to be the big issue Monday night.

At the Trini Sosa Community Center on the west side, the dominos game is pretty friendly, but any threat against Social Security may not be.

"I don't know, but I don't think social security should be touched," said Darlene Hardy, who is collecting Social Security.

So when Perry said at last week's debate, "You cannot keep the status quo in place and not call it anything other than a Ponzi scheme," it caught some of their attention.

"That's what I live on," said Georgia Pogue, a Social Security recipient.

"There needs to be some changes, but I can't say just what the changes should be," said Carolyn Rhoads, who's also collecting Social Security.

Perry hasn't said either and that could be a problem for him now that he's staked such a vocal position. He first made the claim in his book last November that "by any measure Social Security is a failure." And Perry told us then he wanted ideas from Americans about fixing it.

"I want to stimulate this discussion," said Rick Perry on November 4, 2010.

Nine months later, Perry still hasn't announced a plan beyond more talking. On Monday morning, Perry said in a USA Today piece, "Americans deserve a frank and honest discussion of the dire financial challenges facing the nearly 80-year-old program."

But Perry offered no fixes. He has offered a few suggestions along the way. In some interviews, he suggests Social Security should be a state-run program.

In his book, Perry seem to suggest a privatization scheme, saying it should have been an optional program from the start. His book read in part, "If only the New Dealers had been kind enough to allow workers to make their own choice about whether to participate."

And this weekend, Perry told a California audience that Americans should be older before they start getting checks.

"They should probably extend it, but you should be older," said Hardy.

Last week, Romney said career politician Rick Perry, "does not believe Social Security should exist." And you can expect Romney to say more in Monday night's debate.

But is it hurting the Texas governor?

When we asked Ruth Grubbs if she would vote for Perry, she replied, "Yeah, I will."

Going back to that new poll with Perry ahead by 12 points, if you separate voters 50 and older who are already into Social Security or getting closer to it, Perry does even better, up by 18 points.

We'll have more on the Perry and the GOP debate tonight on Eyewitness News at 10.

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