MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The GOP race to face President Obama in 2012 took center stage Wednesday as both Republican frontrunners appeared in Miami Wednesday seeking to solidify their GOP base in the Sunshine State.
Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry were trading barbs primarily about Social Security. Polling research from War Room Logistics has both candidates in a statistical dead heat in Florida. But, only Romney is tied with President Obama at this point.
Romney has seized on a series of questionable comments Perry has made about Social Security, most prominently his calling the 70-plus year old program a “Ponzi scheme” and saying that states would better handle the program that is a lifeline for many Floridians.
“In my opinion, this does not work in any way, shape, or form,” Romney told a Miami town hall meeting.
Romney also said that Perry called Social Security unconstitutional, but Perry didn’t use the words but said the program is a fraud and bad disease created by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
“I want to protect it. I want to save it. I want to make sure it’s there for coming generations,” Romney told the crowd. “I think it’s a good thing. I don’t think everything that comes out of the Democrats is good; but this came out of FDR and I think this was pretty darn good. And I’m going to make sure like Ronald Reagan to keep it.”
Perry shot back at Romney later in the day Wednesday.
“Every person who’s on Social Security would be secured and any individual who’s approaching the age of Social Security and planned their retirement with that they need to know one thing: America has promised them that program would be there,” Perry said.
Governor Perry went further accusing Romney of being a Democrat.
“To employ the age-old Democrat trick that we’re going to go scare our seniors; that’s pretty irresponsible,” Perry said. “If we don’t have the courage and the leadership to stand up and say ‘We’re going to stand up and fix that,’ that’s pretty irresponsible.”
Both Romney and Perry said that Florida is going to be a battleground state and that their operations are just getting rolling.
The election is still more than a year away, but Romney and the rest of the Republican field are in attack mode on Perry already. Perry had an initial surge to the top of the polls after his initial announcement, but has since begun to tail off in recent polls.
Florida is the jewel of both the Republican primary and the general election; so Floridians better get ready to see a lot more of Romney, Perry and eventually President Obama for the next year.