The field of Republican presidential candidates will gather in Orlando this evening for their latest chance to spar with each other while taking on the policies of President Obama.
As has become the norm of late, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney will take center stage as they continue their ongoing battle for the title of GOP frontrunner. The economy and immigration are likely to get their share of the attention from the candidates and moderators, but the the issue of the moment is largely expected to be Social Security, which is an especially potent topic for the Sunshine State’s large population of elderly residents.
Perry will likely need to again weather attacks from his fellow GOP candidates over his description of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme,” an assertion that Romney’s campaign has seized upon as an example of what they say is Perry's brashness and lack of electability.
The Texas governor has since walked back his critiques of the federal program slightly, and attempted to launch an early defense Wednesday night by stressing in a Fox News interview that seniors would still receive their benefits if he becomes president. "That's not appropriate. It's irresponsible," Perry told Sean Hannity regarding the claim that the GOP contender would end the program if elected president.
The ongoing feud between Perry and Romney appears to be boiling over with the two leading candidates aiming their sights on each other with increasing frequency. Perry appears to have tested his latest attack line on his rival during the Fox News interview, an appearance that the Los Angeles Times called Perry’s "coming out party" on the cable network.
"I just think it’s important for the people of America and certainly in Republican primary, to see the clear differences that the candidates have and we need to nominate someone who will have a stark, clear difference between the Republican nominee and President Obama," Perry said. "And I think I am that person who can clearly delineate the differences. We don’t need to nominate 'Obama-lite,' we don’t need to nominate someone who’s going to blur the lines between Obama and our nominee."