This morning on ABC, Karl Rove said Rick Perry’s extreme views on Social Security — detailed in his book “Fed Up!” — are “toxic” both in the Republican primary and the general election. Rove also dismissed Perry’s response thus far as “inadequate.”
In Perry’s book, released just nine months ago, he writes on page 48 that Social Security is “by far the best example” of a program “violently tossing aside any respect for our founding principles.” On page 50, he says that we have Social Security “at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government.”
Rove said Perry’s views amounted to calling for the end of Social Security and replacing it with a state-level program. At the end of August, Perry confirmed to ThinkProgress that he hasn’t “backed off anything in my book.” Karl Rove believes this will be a major problem:
STEPHANPOLOUS: And a lot of questions about how how Rick Perry will handle this test. So much talk about his books and what he’s written in his books, “Fed Up!” Questioning the 16th Amendment, which imposed the income tax. The 17th Amendment, direct election of Senators. And I think he’s gotten the most attention for what he said about Social Security, calling it a Ponzi scheme. Compares it to a “bad disease” that’s been “imposed on us for 70 years.” You know how much trouble that can be for a Republican candidate in a general election. So how does he handle it and must he disavow some of these statements in the book.
ROVE: What they’ve done thus far is, I think, inadequate. Which is to basically say, “look, we didn’t write the book with the presidential campaign in mind.” Well, okay, fine. But they are going to have to find a way to deal with these things. Because, as you say, they are toxic in a general election environment and they are also toxic in a Republican primary. If you say Social Security is a failure and ought to be replaced by a state-level program, then people are going to say: “What do you mean by that?” And make a judgment based on your answer to it. Each candidate has strengths. Each candidate also has challenges. This, for Governor Perry is his challenge. Now he’s got formidable strengths. But this is his biggest challenge.
Perry’s views on Social Security will likely be a major topic in tonight’s GOP primary debate.