Perry responds again to critics of his Social Security statements

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, in a question and answer session after his speech at the Iowa Credit Union League’s annual meeting, referenced Social Security and the need for reform of the system.  He also said this about other candidates in the Republican race who’ve questioned his stand on the issue:

That is political cowardness at its greatest.”

Perry calls RomneyCare “socialism”

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has gone one step more in his criticism of the health care reform plan Mitt Romney signed into law when he was governor of Massachusetts.

Perry spoke early this afternoon at the Iowa Credit Union League’s annual meeting and this is what he said:

“The model for socialized medicine has been tried before…whether it was in western Europe or in Massachusetts…The problem with state-sponsored health care is that you cannot contain it just within the borders of your state. When that plan took effect, it also increased Medicare/Medicaid costs.”

Perry also said Romney’s health care law, which last night he referred to as RomneyCare, had “killed” 18,000 jobs according to a Beacon Hill Institute study.

Think about what ObamaCare would do if it’s implemented all across this country. It must be repealted.”

There was no applause to this declaration from the crowd (although earlier the crowd had applauded when Perry said he wanted to repeal ObamaCare).

Perry also took aim at what he called the  “spending” package President Obama unveiled earlier this month.  Perry made this observation about the first two stimulus packages:

“You’ve got to ask yourself:  How’d that work for us? Not very well.”

The crowd sat silently and did not respond.

Perry also repeated his, “I wasn’t born with four aces in my hand,” line, a dig at rival Romney’s background of privilege.

Perry spoke for about 15 minutes and answered questions from the credit union leaders in the crowd.

Perry hears “four aces” & raises with “RomneyCare”

Rick Perry ripped into Mitt Romney several times this evening during a speech in Jefferson, Iowa.  Perry’s first mention of Romney was caught by those in the crowd who’d seen or heard about Monday’s debate and knew about Romney’s “four aces” line.  Perry told the crowd:

“As the son of tenant farmers, I can promise you I wasn’t born with four aces in my hand,” Perry said.  Some in the crowd started to laugh. Perry continued: “But like many of you the American dream was available to us because this country that we live in is not a class society. This country is based on hard-work and vision and anyone who does that can achieve anything that they desire.”

In case the crowd didn’t know that was a reference to Romney, Perry made it clear a few minutes later:

“Governor Romney the other night, he said that about, you know, he said, well, it’s pretty easy to be governor when you get four aces in your hand and you think you’re good at poker,” Perry said. “You know, there’s some folks back in Texas that were a little offended by that. We worked hard in Texas. We put good, hard, practical principles into play.”

Toward the end of his speech, Perry poked even harder, suggesting Romney doesn’t provide a stark enough contrast with President Obama.  Perry suggested “RomneyCare” was an albatross, although he didn’t use the word albatross.  This is how Perry said it:

“Government-mandated, government-run health care — it is part of what he put in place as the governor of Massachusetts…I think it’s very important that we put someone as our nominee that does not blur the lines between President Obama and the Republican Party.”

Listen & read more about it here.

Bachmann draws “strong mark of demarcation” with Perry, Romney (audio)

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann spoke with Radio Iowa by phone this afternoon, with Social Security the main topic of conversation. Without naming competitor Rick Perry (although I did in the questions), Bachmann said federal policymakers have to “keep faith” with current Social Security beneficiaries.  “That’s wrong for any candidate to make senior citizens believe that they should be nervous about something they have come to count on. We need not do that, but I think at the same time we also outline our positive solutions,” Bachmann said. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”

AUDIO: Bachmann’s 9.9.11 Radio Iowa interview (runs 6 1/2 min)

Now, to the details of our conversation. I began by directly asking Bachmann if she thinks Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and whether she would favor having states run Social Security.

“Let me say first of all I voted against the bill that the president put forward last December that took $111 billion of revenues away from the Social Security Trust Fund this year. That’s the lowering of the payroll tax,” Bachmann said. “We didn’t see one shred of evidence that that created any jobs. Unfortunately what it did was it not only depleted money into the Social Security Trust Fund, it forced the Social Security Trust Fund to dip into the general treasury, which there isn’t any money there. There’s only moths and feathers in the general treasury which meant we had to either borrow that money or else print money to be able to pay for the Social Security checks. That put senior citizens at risk.

“What I think about Social Security is that the United States made a decision 80 years ago about retirement for senior citizens. I do believe that Social Security is in trouble going forward. It needs to be reformed and modified so that we can keep the promise that’s been made to senior citizens.  We can’t ask anyone that’s on Social Security right now to change their benefits. We just can’t because people have made their plans. They’ve made their live’s decisions in such a way depending upon what they expected was to be an earned income for the remainder of their life.

“But we also know that going forward Social Security has some very big challenges that need to be addressed and I am willing and able to be able to be up to that challenge to deal with the reforms that need to be made to make Social Security solid. But I do think, again, that the decision has been made. We have Social Security and we need to work within that system.”

So what sort of reforms would she support?

“Well of course that’s an issue that will take quite a bit of time and it won’t take just one person because this an 80-year-growing problem and this is one that will require a bipartisan solution, Republicans and Democrats coming together. It was Republicans and Democrats who both voted to create Social Security and they’ll have to come together to make it solvent,” Bachmann said. “I know we can. We have very smart people in this country who have to deal with pensions all the time. I’m a former federal tax lawyer. I’ve had to deal with the issue of ERISA law and this is something we can bring good people together to make this solvent, actuaries or other people who know how to make this happen and we can. We have to keep the faith with senior citizens, but we also can’t deny the future upcoming generations of young people their right to have a chance, too.  We can do this. I have no doubt. We can figure this out, but we need to make sure we keep our promises.”

Bachmann was on Iowa Press late this spring when Paul Ryan was getting flack for his Medicare proposal.  At that time, Bachmann said it should be called the “55-and-under plan” because “messaging” was important.  My direction question to her was this: “Do you think your party needs to be equally careful in its messaging on Social Security? Using phrases like ‘monstrous lie’ — do you think that is good messaging?”

“I think that it is not good when President Obama, for instance, made the comment — recklessly, in my opinion — that seniors may not get their Social Security checks in August when we were dealing with the debt ceiling debate,” Bachmann said. “That was irresponsible for the president to do that. He created a great deal of fear. In fact, I was in Dexter, Iowa with senior citizens and I was told by them that there were those that had cancelled some of their bills. They had cancelled services into their home like the internet and cable and other services because they thought the president was telling them they weren’t going to get a Social Security check.

“That’s wrong for any candidate to make senior citizens believe that they should be nervous about something they have come to count on. We need not do that. But I think at the same time we also outline our positive solutions. That’s what I’m trying to do and I’m looking forward to doing that, one of which will be to oppose the president’s plan last evening and that was to once again take money, revenues out of the Social Security Trust Fund with his proposal last evening. I think that knowing that we are adding even more Baby Boomers into the Social Security system, we can’t add more people who are going to be pulling on the system without putting revenues in it, so we have to get our house in order.”

My last question was about the retooling of the Bachmann campaign in Iowa.  I told her I’ve talked with a few people who voted for her at the Straw Poll, but are now supporters of Rick Perry.  “How do you deal with the changed atmosphere here in Iowa and what sort of steps will you take to deal with the new reality of the new competition?”

“Well, there’s always changes when you have new candidates come in. This certainly happened in Iowa the last go around. Fred Thompson came into the race very late. He came in number one, in that he had about 31 percent support. Rudy Giuliani came into the race very late. He also had a very high level of support. People thought that Fred Thompson was going to be the Republican nominee. People thought Rudy Giuliani would be the Republican nominee, but that isn’t who our nominee was.

“I have a very strong level of support in Iowa. I’m very grateful to Iowans for that level of support. People I believe, again, know me and trust me. I will be back again in Iowa this weekend and we have been contacting our supporters across the state and we’ve been holding the line with people who not only are saying that they’re supportive, we’re bringing many, many new people in as well because I have a very strong pro-growth policy,” Bachmann said, then she added the most pointed comments of the interview. “And I’ve demonstrated something that the other candidates haven’t — that’s a level of consistency as a conservative.  I never supported the government take-over of health care, but the other two leading candidates have. I did not support the stimulus bill, but we have the other two leading candidates, or at least one that has, and I did not support the bail-out and we have other leading candidates who have, so there is a strong mark of demarcation between us and I think people will find that out in the debates.”

Bachmann plans to be in Ames tomorrow, attending a tailgate party outside the stadium where Iowa and Iowa State will play a football game. “I have something in common with the Iowa State Cyclones. I’ve won in Ames and so have the Cyclones,” Bachmann joked as she rang off, a reference to her Iowa Straw Poll victory in Ames back on August 13, “so I look forward to being there with all my friends.”

Perry: “I haven’t backed off anything in my book” (AUDIO)

Texas Governor Rick Perry held a brief news conference this evening in Des Moines.  Earlier today in Ottumwa he was asked about Social Security, and he repeated that it was a “Ponzi scheme” and a “monstrous lie” to younger generations who are contributing into the system.

During the news conference, Perry said this at the six-and-a-half minute mark:  “I haven’t backed off anything in my book, so read the book again and get it right, so next question.”

Pressed at the 9:50 mark on the issue of Medicare, Perry responded: “I never said it was unconstitutional. Look, I look at Medicare just like I look at Social Security. They’re programs that aren’t working and we ought to have a national conversation about it. You know, those that have said I said they’re unconstitutional, have ’em read the book. That’s not what I said.”

Here’s some background on the backing off issue.

The first question during the news conference was about ethanol and Perry repeated what he’d told the corn growers earlier today.

AUDIO: Perry’s news conference 12 min

@ Polk GOP picnic: Rick Perry

Texas Governor Rick Perry is the second presidential candidate to speak at the Polk County GOP’s picnic this evening.  The master of ceremonies, WHO Radio’s Simon Conway, began by reading a letter from a veteran who cannot be here tonight.  That veteran, Will Gormley (spelling on his last name a guess)  praised Perry’s “heat-seeking comments” in his letter and asked Conway to give Perry a 1911 holster.

“‘It’s named after the year is was first made by Colt and this is the centennial year for the 1911,” Perry advised the crowd.   He gestured toward a John Deere tractor parked right outside the bar.

“I just want to take a moment. I learned to drive on an A model John Deere.  That’s a poppin’ Johnny right here…so God Bless John Deere. They have helped feed the world. We just need a little rain down in Texas so we can do our part,” Perry said.

Perry talked about his ag roots and he thanked Iowans who have organized a shipment of hay to drought-striken Texas livestock farmers.

Perry said Iowa has “lost 12,100  jobs” since Obama took office.  Today one in eight Iowans are on food stamps, he said. “That is a testament to the widespread misery…that the state known for feeding the world has so many residents dependent on government.”

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Perry “saddles up” and will attend Polk GOP picnic

The announcement from the party:


Des Moines, Iowa – 8/23/2011 –

Texas Governor Rick Perry, recently announced Presidential candidate,  will be saddling up to the Polk County  Republicans at their second annual Summer Picnic this Saturday,  at the Iowa State Fairgrounds’ Jalapeno Pete’s restaurant on Saturday, August 27,  5-7:30 p.m.  
… “This event promises to be lively,” said Kevin McLaughlin, Polk County Republican Chairman.  He noted that other U.S. Presidential candidates who just couldn’t get enough of the beautiful Iowa State Fairgrounds’ locale will include announced presidential candidates  U.S. Rep. Ron Paul and U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter.  Former New York Governor George Pataki will also be speaking to the Republicans.  
Other local officials at the picnic will include Iowa state senators Jack Whitver and Brad Zaun as well as state representatives Erik Helland, Kevin Koester and Scott Raecker.  Polk County Supervisor E.J. Giovanetti will make brief remarks. 
Hosted by WHO Radio news talk show host Simon Conway, the Polk County Summer Picnic is $25 per person and will feature hamburgers, hot dogs and the usual summer fare, along with tractor rides around the Iowa State Fairgrounds and other fun activities. 

Perry gets Branstad’s praise, Huntsman gets an asterisk

Governor Terry Branstad, a man who has won six statewide races in Iowa, was asked for a little political analysis this morning at the end of his weekly statehouse news conference. 

When asked about the “strengths and weaknesses” of Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan and/or George Pataki as GOP presidential candidates, Branstad called them “all good people” who were welcome to his “advice and counsel.” 

Jon Huntsman said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that “in New Hampshire, they pick presidents. I know they pick something else in Iowa.”  Branstad was dismissive.  “He’s off on the wrong track and Jon Huntsman isn’t even an asterisk when you take a poll.”

Branstad was asked about Rick Perry’s debut as a national candidate and if Branstad believes there are people within the Obama Administrator who have committed treason.  “I think he did a tremendous job at the Iowa State Fair. I thought he was as relaxed and confident and at home at the Iowa State Fair as anybody I’ve ever seen and I’ve see a lot of ’em,” Branstad replied.  “…The only thing in Texas, they always say how big everything is and we tend to downplay and understate here, but I think he came across very well.”

When pressed about Perry’s treason comment, Branstad talked about the gold standard. 

“I think you’ve got to look at things in context,” Branstad told reporters. “I think that was probably the wrong choice of words, but the idea that somehow we’re going to correct the problems in this country by printing more money — I think people are very apprehensive about that…I think a lot of people think we ought to go back to the ‘Gold Standard’ considering the value of gold versus the value of the dollar. I’m not advocating it, so don’t jump to any conclusion, but I’m just telling you, look at where value is…Inflating the currency more, printing more money, I think Perry’s right about that. Printing more money, in my opinion, is not going to revitalize the American economy. It’s just going to make whatever we have less valuable.”

Both “Parry” & “Paylin” got votes Saturday

I talked with Secretary of State Matt Schultz this afternoon. He confirmed there were write-in votes counted in Texas Governor Rick Perry’s tally that did not spell the Texan’s name correctly.  It got spelled “Parry” — as Stephen Colbert suggested . It got spelled “Pery”, too.  Sarah “Paylin” got a vote, according to Schultz.

But most of the 218 “scattered” votes on Saturday were write-in votes for fictional characters — the State Fair’s Butter Cow topped the list.

Oh, and there was at least one write-in vote for a Barack Obama.  Read more here.

EPB II, featuring Bachmann, Perry, Santorum (AUDIO)

It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was sitting at this very booth in the Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo (it was June 26), but tonight there’s not just one candidate but three GOP hopefuls who are scheduled to speak here.

Texas Governor Rick Perry entered the ballroom as the folks running the sound system blasted “Deep in the Heart of Texas” over the speakers.  A swarm of cameras, microphones, reporters, and photographers followed Perry through the landscape of round tables where the local folks were seated, enjoying pre-dinner drinks before the meal was served.

Perry spoke about the “green” of Iowa, compared to the tinder-dry Texas landscape. A reporter asked whether economic or social issues were paramount in 2012.

“Everybody’s got their own issues that matter, but at the end of the day, getting America working again is what the bulk of the people really care about,” Perry said.

Several people in the room said they didn’t know much about Perry, but were willing to give him a look-see.  One man suggested “Perry/Bachmann 2012” might be a good idea.

Perry told reporters he would spend “a lot of time in Iowa” — but he uttered the “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” line about the nature of the presidential race.

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