Video: Perry on the defensive at GOP debate

  1. Closed captioning of: Perry on the defensive at GOP debate

    >>> perry found himself on the defensive during last night's fiery gop debate. among those who went after him, congresswoman michele bachmann . we'll talk to her in a moment. chuck todd has the latest.

    >> good morning, savannah. seven of the republican candidates made it clear who their front-runner is. the tea party debate turned into a texas bashfest.

    >> the people who are on social security today need to understand something, slam dunk guaranteed, that program is going to be there in place.

    >> reporter: front-runner rick perry began his second-ever presidential debate trying to reassure seniors his ponzi scheme comments about social security were taken out of context. it has been called a ponzi scheme by many people long before me, but no one's had the courage to stand up and say here is how we're going to reform it.

    >> the question is do you still believe that social security should be ended as a federal program as you did six months ago when your book came out?

    >> i think we ought to have a conversation --

    >> we're having that right now, governor. we're running for president.

    >> i'll finish this conversation.

    >> i think those types of thoughtful conversations with america rather than trying to scare seniors like you're doing and other people, it's time to have a legitimate conversation in this country.

    >> governor, the term ponzi scheme is what scared seniors.

    >> reporter: unlike last week, romney wasn't alone in going after perry . michele bachmann hammered the texas governor for his support of statewide vaccinations against girls 12 and over against causing cervical cancer .

    >> to force 12-year-old little girls to have a government vaccination is flat-out wrong.

    >> at the end of the day this is about trying to stop a cancer.

    >> you may criticize me about the way i went about it, but at the end of the day i am always going to err on the side of life.

    >> reporter: bachmann also questioned whether a campaign contribution from a drug company influenced perry 's decision.

    >> there's a big drug company that made millions of dollars because of this mandate.

    >> the company was merck, and it was a $5,000 contribution that i had received from them. if you're saying that i can be bought for 5,000, i'm offended.

    >> i'm offended for all the little girls and the parents that didn't have a choice. that's why i'm offend, sir.

    >> it didn't get easier for perry when the issue of immigration came up as the crowd let him know that they didn't like the policy to give tuition to mexican immigrants.

    >> no matter how you got in, from the standpoint if your parents brought you there or what have you.

    >> think the american way is not to give taxpayer subsidized benefits to people who have broken our laws or are here in the united states illegally. that is not the american way .

    >> it was that kind of night for perry . it wasn't just from romney and bachmann, santorum jumped in. ron paul hit him. even john huntsman tried, though, a couple of his jokes or barbs fell flat including one that was an odd troefrns kurt cobain . other than that, these guy s gather again next week.

    >> reporter:

Image: GOP presidential candidates
Joe Raedle  /  Getty Images
Republican presidential candidates listen to the national anthem as they prepare to debate on Monday in Tampa, Fla.
updated 9/13/2011 7:58:11 AM ET 2011-09-13T11:58:11

Rick Perry 1.0 thought Social Security was a "disease" inflicted on the population by the federal government.

Rick Perry 2.0 thinks Social Security deserves being saved "for generations to come."

That metamorphosis by the Republican presidential hopeful over recent months contributed to some factual stretches Monday night in a GOP debate , both by the Texas governor and his opponents for the nomination.

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A look at some of the claims in the debate and how they compare with the facts:

PERRY: On Social Security for younger workers, "No one's had the courage to stand up and say, here is how we're going to reform it."

THE FACTS: Many have done just that. Former President George W. Bush and a variety of Republicans since, including some running for president now, have stood for the position that Social Security should be partially privatized, enabling younger workers to divert some of their payroll taxes to individual investment accounts while the entitlement program is kept whole for those already using it or close to retirement.

Video: GOP goes after Perry during Fla. debate (on this page)


MITT ROMNEY: "The real issue is, in writing his book, Gov. Perry pointed out that in his view that Social Security is unconstitutional, that this is not something the federal government ought to be involved in, that instead it should be given back to the states."

THE FACTS: Perry indeed roundly criticized Social Security in his book, but not quite to the point of calling it unconstitutional. In words he is trying to walk back now, Perry branded the program the "best example" of the "fraud" and "bad disease" spread by Washington in Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Perry furthermore criticized the Supreme Court of that era for "abdicating its role as the protector of constitutional federalism."

Story: Perry assailed by rivals, forced to defend record

That falls somewhere short of declaring Social Security unconstitutional. Nor has Perry pushed to transfer Social Security to the states, an idea he has promoted for Medicare.

Perry now has abandoned such rhetoric, adopting the conventional Republican view in a USA Today column Monday that its finances must be made whole to protect current and imminent retirees and make it viable for "generations to come."


MICHELE BACHMANN: Obama "stole over $500 billion out of Medicare to switch it over to Obamacare. ... These are programs that need to be saved to serve people, and in their current form, they can't."

ROMNEY: "He cut Medicare by $500 billion. This is a Democrat president. The liberal, so to speak, cut Medicare. Not Republicans, the Democrat."

THE FACTS: "Stole" is a hyperbolic way to describe the kinds of shifts in budget priorities that happen every day in Washington. To pay for expanded insurance coverage, Obama's health care law cuts $500 billion in payments to the Medicare Advantage program, which a congressional agency said was being overpaid — and to hospitals and nursing homes. Nearly all House Republicans, including Bachmann, later voted for a GOP budget plan that retained the same cuts Obama had made.

Story: Will voters be frightened by Rick Perry?


PERRY: The $814 billion economic stimulus program pushed by President Barack Obama "created zero jobs."

THE FACTS: There is no support for that assertion. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said last year that the stimulus increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million as of mid-2010. It cut the unemployment rate between 0.7 and 1.8 percentage points, the CBO found.

Economists debate whether the stimulus lived up to its promise or was worth the cost, but no one seriously argues that it created no jobs. Many believe it helped to end the recession even while falling short of its employment goals.

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