“Texas Gov. Rick Perry didn’t back down from his much-quoted characterization of Social Security as a Ponzi scheme at a Bakersfield fundraiser Friday.

“Asked about it after his speech at the Jam Event Center, Perry again said the safety-net program was ‘no worse than a Ponzi scheme.’…

“‘People are tired of scare tactics,’ Perry said. ‘They’re looking for a leader who will tell them the truth but also find solutions.'”

“In audio from the event provided to The Tribune, Romney said Perry’s comparison of Social Security to something a con man uses is an affront to those who have paid into the system.

“‘Are the seniors today taking advantage of other people?’ Romney said. ‘What [Perry] did last night was cement the fact that he cannot be elected president of the United States. And so, as that sinks in, how are his remarks last night going to be seen in Florida? Not so well. And we have to win Florida to win the White House.'”

The flier, which a [Romney] campagn spokesman said is being left at the doors of Florida GOP primary voters, portrays the GOP primary as a two-candidate race — ‘Two candidates. Only one will protect what’s important to you,’ is the headline.

“Of those two, it says, Perry is “reckless and wrong on Social Security.’ The bold-face tagline: ‘Rick Perry: How can we trust anyone who wants to kill Social Security?‘”

“Now, another Republican rival, Michele Bachmann, is preparing to hit Perry on the same issue.

“‘Bernie Madoff deals with Ponzi schemes, not the grandparents of America,’ says a Bachmann adviser. ‘Clearly she feels differently about the value of Social Security than Gov. Perry does. She believes Social Security needs to be saved, that it’s an important safety net for Americans who have paid into it all their lives.’…

“She strongly disagrees with [Perry’s] position on that, and it’s clearly not something that’s going to sit well with the people of Florida and Iowa and South Carolina and many of the early states, where there is a large population of seniors who rely heavily on Social Security. For [Perry] to scare them is wrong.”

“‘Now these candidates are coming to Florida – a state with a heavy senior and retiree population. Seniors don’t want either Rick Perry or Mitt Romney’s approach to dismantling Social Security,’ said [DNC chair Debbie] Wasserman Schultz. ‘Ending Medicare and dismantling Social Security are curious positions for candidates campaigning in Florida – but that’s exactly what these Republicans support and believe. At this debate and for the entirety of this campaign we’ll make sure voters know it.'”

“As President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote in 1954: ‘Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt [and] a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.’

“Governor Perry is completely out of touch with the vast majority of the American people, who recognize Social Security’s vital importance in providing economic security when wages are lost as a result of death, disability or old age. If Mr. Perry continues to defend those views, we predict, to quote John Wayne in “True Grit,’ ‘You do it and it’ll be the biggest mistake you ever made, you Texas brushpopper!‘”

“Nancy Roe, a Social Security recipient who moved to Bluffton from Atlanta in 1972, said that she agreed with Perry, although she thought his answer on Social Security at Wednesday’s debate was incomplete.

“‘I was sorry the other night that he didn’t explain that he would have wanted to fix Social Security,’ she said. ‘I’m on it too.’

“‘But it is a Ponzi scheme!’ Referring to the CNN/Tea Party debate next week, she said, ‘I hope Rick Perry can explain himself better in Tampa. I’m glad he didn’t backtrack. Yes, it is a Ponzi scheme.”

“Perry understands that for the last twenty-six years no Republican Presidential candidate has been willing to address the unsustainability of the Social Security funding for fear of being pummeled by Democrats. But recent Rasmussen polling indicates that although Social Security remains a popular with a 73% approval; only 30% of likely U.S. voters favor raising taxes to make sure the Social Security and Medicare trust funds have enough money to pay all promised benefits. Rasmussen determined that only ‘26% of voters under 40 believe it’s even Somewhat Likely they will receive all of their promised Social Security benefits. That includes only 5% who say it’s Very Likely those benefits will be paid.’

“The key to President Obama’s election victory in 2008 was the 22% voter preference he enjoyed in under 30 voters. Perry’s denigrating of Social of Security as a Ponzi scheme may turn out to be a powerful wedge issue that may turn younger voters away from Obama this fall.”

“Of course Perry did NOT say he wanted to ‘abolish’ Social Security, he simply called it what it is. It’s a classic Ponzi Scheme because money from the last investors must be used to pay the first investors. The fact Social Security is compulsory while a Ponzi Scheme is voluntary is beside the point…

“Perry appears to understand something Reagan knew very well: The smartest guys in the room crowd are slaves to conventional liberal wisdom and they are out-of-touch with the values and views of most Americans.

“Our political elites in New York and Washington are far more attuned to that conventional wisdom than to everyday Americans. If you don’t grasp that fact, you will never understand why three-fourths of the voters trust the people more than professional politicians.

“And that is why Perry’s candor may well prove to be his greatest asset in the months ahead.”