Live coverage: GOP debate, round two
Last week at the Reagan Library, Texas Gov. Rick Perry made his debut in the GOP presidential debates as an unapologetic and uncompromising conservative, the stance that has made him a sudden front-runner. But he also alarmed some voters when he repeated his assertion that Social Security is "a monstrous lie." Quoth the governor: "It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years today you're paying into a program that's going to be there."
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney wasted no time jumping on what he saw as a gaffe. "Our nominee has to be someone who isn't committed to abolishing Social Security but is committed to saving [it]," Romney said.
Monday night brings round two, and the venue is Tampa, Fla. -- in other words, deep in the heart of the snowbird state. Will Perry take a step back from his implication that Social Security should be scrapped? He did just that in a column in Monday morning's USA Today, in which he wrote: "America's goal must be to fix Social Security by making it more financially sound." Naturally, he didn't say how he would do so. Instead, he just applauded himself for having the courage to tell the "hard facts" about Social Security, even though every one of the facts he went on to cite was wrong or misleading.
Will Romney force Perry to square his new-found desire to reform Social Security with his pre-campaign statements that the program should never have been passed? And can Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) elbow her way into the conversation after being overshadowed last week? Can anyone else on the dais?
Join us for our live coverage during the debate beginning at 5 p.m.
-- Doyle McManus and Jon Healey
Photo: Republican presidential candidates stand together before the Sept. 7 candidate debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley. Monday's televised debate takes place in Tampa. Credit: Chris Carlson / Associated Press