It was all about Social Security today in Florida at the mega-retirement center known as the Villages, where former Gov. Mitt Romney spoke to a crowd of more than 300 retirees who diligently held signs bearing Romney’s name, as they were promised that their benefits – and their kids’ bendfits - wouldn’t be touched if Romney was elected.
“There has been a lot of discussion about Social Security, and Social Security is not going to change for anyone in this room,” said Romney, to cheers from the crowd.
“Except for those little ones over there,” he said, jokingly, pointing to two young children in the audience, who were easily 40 years younger than the audience’s average age.
Romney’s reiteration of his position to save Social Security was not met without criticism from Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whom Romney mentioned by name several times.
“I don’t know of anyone in either party, well maybe a couple of exceptions, nobody that you’re going to listen to who is going to tell that they’ll change Social Security for you,” he said.
“One of my contenders in the Republican Party says Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. I don’t happen to think that’s the case,” said Romney. “I happen to think Social Security has worked pretty darn well for 75 years.”
“I don’t think the major problem is Social Security as a Ponzi scheme. I think the problem is keeping it from becoming a Perry scheme,” said Romney.
Romney went on to say that Perry believed Social Security was “unconstitutional” and wanted to see it end as a federal program. Romney questioned how Perry’s plan would work.
“Let’s get Social Security working for the coming generations as it has worked for the current and past generations. Let’s solve and save Social Security,” he said.
Asked by one man what the federal government would do and not do for the education system, Romney gave a shout out to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
“I believe education ought to be run at the state level, not at the federal level,” said Romney. “What I really need to have to answer that question perfectly is to have Jeb Bush in the room. I don’t know anyone who is a better governor and a better expert in education that Jeb Bush. But I’ve had that conversation with Jeb Bush.”
Romney went on to say he liked the idea of testing kids and rewarding the best teachers with merit pay.
A more tender moment game when an elderly woman in the last row managed to catch Romney’s attention right as he announced he wouldn’t be taking any more questions.
The woman said she had the opportunity to meet Romney’s wife, Ann Romney, and said that she thought she would make a “wonderful first lady.”
Clearly flattered, Romney said, “My wife is gorgeous, and she is the brains in the outfit, as they say. And I agree with you, she’d make a wonderful first lady, and I’d be proud of her being in that position.”