Rick Perry Can’t Defend His Claim That Social Security Is Unconstitutional Because He’s ‘Got A Big Mouthful’

This pastry prevents Rick Perry from explaining why he thinks Social Security is unconstitutional

At a campaign stop at a New Hampshire restaurant today, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) refused to explain his previous claim that Social Security violates the Constitution. Rather than clarify how this firm stance can be squared with his post-presidential campaign announcement position that “Social Security’s going to be there” for the elderly, Perry stuffed some food in his mouth and then refused to answer because his mouth was full:

Inside the café, Gail Mitchell and a companion grilled him: “You said Social Security was unconstitutional.”

“Social Security’s going to be there for those folks,” Perry answered his inquisitors, making reference to the elderly.

“But you said Social Security is unconstitutional,” Mitchell repeated.

“I don’t think I — I’m sorry, you must have,” Perry said before stopping himself.

Instead of elaborating, Perry stuffed a generous piece of popover in his mouth. (Perry called them “pop ups.”)

“I’ve got a big mouthful,” Perry said and then ordering a glass of water. He later tripped over one of the women standing at his side pressing him on Social Security.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart,” Perry said to her.

Popovers, a hollow egg batter roll similar to a Yorkshire pudding, are delicious. But they are no excuse for Perry’s refusal to answer a basic question. In an interview with the Daily Beast’s Andrew Romano, Perry claimed that “pensions” and “health care” are not issues the federal government can address under the Constitution, so it’s difficult to see how Perry expects Social Security (or Medicare, for that matter) to be there for seniors when he is convinced that they violate our nation’s founding document.

And if Perry ever finishes chewing his popover, he has plenty of other questions to answer about his absurd vision of the Constitution, including:

  • Pell Grants & Student Loans: When Perry said, “I don’t think the federal government has a role in your children’s education,” did he mean that all college students must lose their Pell Grants and federal student loans overnight, or can they finish out the current semester?
  • Child Labor Laws: Does Perry’s statement that “national labor laws” are unconstitutional mean that he would like to hire child workers himself, or just that coal mine and factory owners should be free to start hiring 9-year-olds if they chose to?
  • Ending Democracy: Perry opposes the the 17th Amendment, which empowers Americans to elect their senators. Would Perry call upon Congress to repeal this amendment on his first day in the White House, or would this be a lower priority initiative in a Perry Administration? Are there any other elected officials that Perry thinks should be appointed by political insiders instead of being selected by the democratic process?
  • Workplace Discrimination: Perry wrote that federal laws “protecting civil rights” are unconstitutional, but he also makes an exception for laws barring racial discrimination. Does Perry promise to only appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will allow businesses to fire all of their Catholic employees? How about their female employees?
  • Jefferson Davis Perry: Perry infamously claimed that “if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people,” Texas may need to secede from the union. What does Perry believe would require Texas to secede? Would Cap and Trade push him into Jefferson Davis territory? How about single payer health care?

Clearly, Rick Perry has many, many questions he needs to answer about his twisted view of the Constitution. There probably aren’t enough popovers in New Hampshire to allow him to dodge all of them.


ThinkProgress’ Travis Waldron is on the ground in New Hampshire covering the Perry campaign. He captured this video of two of the people at Perry’s campaign event explaining that Perry refused to answer their questions about Social Security and the Constitution:

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