Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

As Florida debate looms, Gov. Rick Perry rides into Social Security storm

The focus of the Republican presidential campaign this week turns to Florida, where one in six residents receives Social Security benefits. And Rick Perry has some explaining to do.

The Texas governor and presidential front-runner called Social Security "a Ponzi scheme" and "monstrous lie" in last week's debate in California, leading Mitt Romney to suggest Perry is unelectable because he is hostile not just to how the cherished entitlement program is financed but to the program itself. Perry has previously called the program a failure and suggested it should be turned over to the states.

"Social Security is unsustainable in its current form. Most Americans and any honest leader has to admit that," Perry campaign spokesman Ray Sullivan said, dismissing Romney's criticism of Perry's Social Security rhetoric. "The governor sounded the alarm on the need to reform Social Security. He would protect benefits for those currently receiving them and those near retirement but wants a national discussion and review about the changes to the system to make it more stable and financially sound going forward."

The issue is sure to come up at Monday's CNN-Tea Party Express debate televised live from the state fairgrounds in Tampa from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

GOP straw poll

Michele Bachmann and Romney have declared they won't actively campaign for the Florida GOP's Presidency 5 straw poll mock election Sept. 24, but Perry says he's eager to participate.

"Florida is very important to me, and I am looking forward to bringing my pro-jobs conservative message to Florida and the Presidency 5 straw poll events," said Perry, who is assembling a strong Florida campaign team.

Every major candidate's name will be on the straw poll ballot, and even if Bachmann and Romney decide not to address the more than 3,000 delegates before the mock election, the delegates will have had an opportunity to see them speak and debate in Orlando on Sept. 22 and 23.

"You can't win the White House if you can't win Florida, and this event is the first real test for these national campaigns here in the Sunshine State," said state party spokesman Brian Hughes.

Presidency 5 spurned

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is turning his attention away from Florida toward New Hampshire. Though he has hired former Jeb Bush and Tim Pawlenty fundraiser Ann Herberger, Huntsman is shifting manpower out of his Orlando campaign headquarters to New Hampshire, where he has consistently polled toward the bottom of the field. The campaign early on had committed to participating in the Florida straw poll, but on Friday said shifting attention to New Hampshire partly reflected "the diminished importance of Florida's "P5."

Suffice it to say, that did not endear Huntsman to the Florida Republican Party.

"The Huntsman team has redefined irony," said party spokesman Hughes. "On the day a campaign that polls near last place calls Presidency 5 'diminished,' the campaign polling in first place announces it will vigorously compete to win P5. Florida Republicans will help the ultimate nominee win this state and the White House. Why any campaign would choose to disparage the 3,500 people who represent the core of our state party's base defies reason."

Iorio on leadership

Former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio has a book coming out soon on leadership: Straightforward, Ways to Live and Lead.

Obama campaign hire

Former Florida Democratic Party communications director Eric Jotkoff has been hired to be Florida press secretary for Barack Obama's campaign, Organizing for America.

Before joining the Florida Democratic Party, Jotkoff worked as a member of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign staff, for the U.S. House of Representatives, on Sen. John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, and in senior positions on congressional and gubernatorial campaigns, including Rod Smith's.

Winner of the week

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. A ton of political operatives and political reporters will descend on the state fairgrounds in Tampa on Monday for the CNN-Tea Party Express Republican presidential debate. And afterward? The casino is a stone's throw away. This debate may generate some creative expense accounts.

Losers of the week

U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami. The two members of Congress are trying to kill the redistricting reform measures overwhelmingly passed by Floridians last year, but their legal challenge was dismissed by a federal judge last week.

As Florida debate looms, Gov. Rick Perry rides into Social Security storm 09/10/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 10, 2011 7:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays blow lead, rally, blow lead, rally again to beat Twins in 15 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays sure made it interesting Sunday, taking an early lead, watching their beleaguered bullpen blow it, rallying to tie in the ninth, battling the Twins to take a lead in the 14th then giving it up again.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 28: Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates scoring a run against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on May 28, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010990
  2. Marijuana extract sharply cuts seizures in severe form of epilepsy


    An oil derived from the marijuana plant sharply reduces violent seizures in young people suffering from a rare, severe form of epilepsy, according to a study published last week that gives more hope to parents who have been clamoring for access to the medication.

  3. 'I ain't fit to live': Police say Mississippi gunman kills 8


    BROOKHAVEN, Miss. — A man who got into an argument with his estranged wife and her family over his children was arrested Sunday in a house-to-house shooting rampage in rural Mississippi that left eight people dead, including his mother-in-law and a sheriff's deputy.

    People embrace Sunday outside the Bogue Chitto, Miss., house where eight people were killed during a shooting rampage Saturday in Lincoln County, Miss.
  4. Kushner's Russia ties questioned as Trump cites media 'lies'


    WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats on Sunday demanded to hear directly from top White House adviser Jared Kushner over allegations of proposed secret back-channel communications with Russia, saying the security clearance of President Donald Trump's son-in-law may need to be revoked.

  5. Muslims thankful for support after rant, deadly attack


    PORTLAND, Ore. — Muslims in Portland, Ore., thanked the community for its support and said they were raising money for the families of two men who were killed when they came to the defense of two young women — one wearing a hijab — who were targeted by an anti-Muslim rant.

    Jeremy Christian is accused of killing 2 men who stepped in as he berated two women.