Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Monday joined the line of Republicans making pilgrimages to the congressional district of Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., this election season. Although still a freshman, Scott is one of only two African-American Republicans in Congress and is considered a rising GOP star from an important primary state.
Perry addressed a standing-room-only crowd at Horry Georgetown Technical College in Conway, S.C., about a 20-minute drive from Myrtle Beach. The audience, mostly people in their 40s or older, peppered him with questions about Social Security, immigration and other topics. Perry said that although people of his generation have little to worry about, the next generation is being told “a monstrous lie” that the current system will help them in their retirement years.
“I’ve got a 28-year-old son – approaching 28 – and a 25-year-old daughter. And we shouldn’t lie to them and tell them that this system that we have in place today will be there for them. So (we need to) have a conversation with America. How do we make that transition from the system that we’ve got today? I call it a Ponzi scheme. I call it a monstrous lie.
“Anyone who is running for the president of the United States and wants to keep the status quo on entitlement(s) is suspect,” Perry concluded.
On the issue of illegal immigration, Perry shared his belief that a high-tech security fence is not the answer, as some in Congress have suggested, and that “the only way you can truly secure that border is with boots on the ground.” As president, he said he would add 4,500 additional federal agents from Brownsville, Texas to Tijuana, Mexico. While those agents were being trained, he said, he would detail National Guard units to protect the border.
Scott told reporters after the morning event that he thought the crowd was impressed with Perry’s performance. He has hosted similar meetings for Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, and he is planning an event with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
It was Perry’s last campaign stop of the day. He canceled an appearance at a conservative forum hosted for Republican presidential candidates by Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina to fly back to Texas to oversee efforts to combat some 60 wildfires threatening several towns and responsible for at least two deaths.
Reuters reported that the Texas Forest Service was battling 63 fires that burned 32,936 acres, including 22 large fires. A 20-year-old woman and her 18-month-old daughter were killed in northeast Texas after becoming trapped in their mobile home by flames. Officials said the worst fires were east of the state capital of Austin, where one fire stretched for 16 miles.
Aides said the governor does plan to attend a GOP presidential debate scheduled for Wednesday evening at the Reagan Presidential Library in California. It will be his first debate since he declared his candidacy.
In South Carlina, among Perry's parting words were, “Pray for rain.”