Politics & Policy

Romney Camp Works to Paint Perry as Flip-Flopper

In these still relatively early days of Rick Perry’s candidacy, the Romney campaign is working hard to paint him as flip-flopper with extreme views on Social Security.

This morning, the Romney camp blasted out an e-mail entitled “PERRY’S SOCIAL SECURITY PROBLEM IN IOWA,” that noted “roughly one in five Iowans receives Social Security Benefits.” The e-mail highlighted some of the more controversial statements Perry had made in Fed Up! and on a TV appearance recently under the heading, “A reminder: Perry advocates dismantling Social Security and sending it to the states, calling the program ‘a failure.’”

The Romney campaign is also using the Social Security issue to reinforce their theme that Perry’s not consistent on his positions.  “Governor Perry is backing further and further away from his position on Social Security,” the campaign notes in an e-mail headlined, “RICK’S RETREAT CONTINUES ON SOCIAL SECURITY.”  And they’re pointing to a “clarification” on Perry’s position about Afghanistan as a flip-flop. For background, in a Time interview published yesterday, Perry said, “I think we need to try to move our men and women home as soon as we can. Not just in Afghanistan, but in Iraq as well.” It was similar to his comments at the debate earlier this week. But a senior Perry aide told Foreign Policy that Perry had not meant to say the U.S. should immediately withdraw from Afghanistan:  “He would lean toward wanting to bring our troops home, but he understands that we have vital strategic interests in Afghanistan and that a precipitous withdrawal is not what he’s recommending.” The Romney campaign argued that Perry had changed his position in an e-mail entitled, “RICK’S REVERSAL ON AFGHANISTAN.”

There’s been a lot of discussion about how much Perry’s views on Social Security could damage his campaign. But it’ll be interesting if the Romney campaign gains any traction on painting him as flip-flopper — a charge which, if it sticks, could result in there being significantly fewer differences in voters’ minds between Perry and Romney.

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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