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Rick Perry calls Obama 'a socialist' in GOP debate

January 08, 2012|By James Oliphant
  • Rick Perry makes a point at Sunday morning's GOP presidential debate in Concord, N.H.
Rick Perry makes a point at Sunday morning's GOP presidential debate… (Charles Krupa / Associated…)

Rick Perry, seeking to revive his flagging presidential campaign, said Sunday he was sure of one thing. “We have a president who is a socialist,” Perry said in response to a question at the early morning GOP debate in Concord, N.H.

“I reject the premise that Obama reflects our founding fathers,” Perry said. “He doesn’t.”

It’s hard to view Perry as an anything but an afterthought in New Hampshire -- and he seems to agree. The Texas governor is locked on South Carolina, and Sunday cast himself as the one tea party candidate left in the race in a bid to line up conservative votes in the South.

Rick Santorum wants those votes too, but the problem is, as noted by debate moderator David Gregory, he has some baggage in his Senate voting record, including his vote for the Medicare prescription drug benefit expansion in 2003. The bill was passed by a bipartisan Congress under President George W. Bush with no means to cover its cost in the budget.

“I said repeatedly that we should have had a funding mechanism,” Santorum said. “It was a very tough vote.”

Santorum said the bill also established health savings accounts, a conservative idea that was “anti-socialistic” and partially privatized Medicare with the Medicare Advantage plan.

“There were a lot of good things in that bill and there was one really bad thing. We should have paid for it,” he said.

Ron Paul, who, as a libertarian, actively opposes large government programs, said Americans shouldn’t expect entitlement programs such as Medicare. “Entitlements are not rights. Rights mean you have a right to your life and the rights to your liberty and you should have the rights to keep the fruits of your labor,” he said.

Paul said most federal spending usually winds up benefiting special interests instead.

“Guess who gets the entitlements in Washington?” Paul said. “The big guys.”

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