This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 12, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM PAWLENTY, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Governor Romney wants to fix Social Security. He doesn't want to abolish it or end it. He doesn't believe it should be thrown out. He believes it should be reformed and fixed.
I think he will make the best president not just for the Republican Party but for the nation. And he can beat Barack Obama. He's the one who can unify the Republican base and, I think, go into those swing states that we're going to need and also get conservative Democrats and Independents to join the cause as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Former presidential candidate and former governor from Minnesota Tim Pawlenty endorsing Mitt Romney today. On the other side of the coin, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has endorsed Texas Governor Rick Perry in this race, dueling endorsements today.
As you heard in that Governor Pawlenty sound bite there is a charge about Social Security in which Governor Perry responded in an op-ed today, quote, "We must have the guts to talk about its financial condition if we are to fix Social Security and make it financially viable for generations to come. Americans must come together and agree to address the problems so today's beneficiaries and tomorrow's retirees really can count on Social Security for the long haul." This is all ahead of a debate tonight, another debate in Florida. Charles?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: All of that in writing that was issued today is a way to walk back the gaffe that Perry had made in the previous debate where he called it a Ponzi, a gaffe in the Washington sense of what a politician accidentally speaks the truth. In this case, you aren't supposed to actually say it.
And when he said it, he didn't emphasize enough that even though it's a fraud, and even though it's a Ponzi scheme, he wants to actually save it and make it sound. So -- and Romney hit hard on that, as Pawlenty did today. And it will be an issue, I'm sure in the debate tonight. But he is attempting to walk it back.
And I think he can be successful, but he's got to be careful because he shoots from the hip and that is going to be really hard in a national campaign, where you are under incredible scrutiny every day.
BAIER: What about these dueling endorsements, Juan?
JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: I think Pawlenty's carries more weight, but it looks like right now we're in a campaign for vice presidential nominations is what it looks like on the surface. But Pawlenty clearly in terms of his background, his success, the fact that he was running carries more weight than I think Bobby Jindal, who's a fellow southerner of Louisiana and who has not, in terms of his rise been as -- quite as forthcoming, quite as rapid in his rise as he had hoped.
BAIER: Could this attack by the Romney campaign on the issue of Social Security backfire on him in a Republican base that is getting ready for what would be attacks from Democrats on this issue?
TUCKER CARLSON, EDITOR, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: Open to reality, you mean? And let me just say very quickly, yes. But let me just say about the endorsement, Pawlenty got out of the race two weeks ago. Why hasn't he endorsed until now? Part of the reason is, he was waiting for Chris Christie to see if Governor Chris Christie was gonna get into the race. That's not to take away from his endorsement of Governor Romney but still significant.
I would say on the question of Social Security, Romney has already demagogued this issue and it is demagoguery. His attacks on Perry, like Perry or not, were pure demagoguery. If tonight you see Michele Bachmann do the same thing, Michele Bachmann is a good conservative by any definition I would say, that's the point where you realize something profound has changed in the Republican Party. And ya know, the Republican Party of 20 years ago would have had no problem stating the obvious, which is, it is a Ponzi scheme. The classic definition fits. If you're not allowed to say that anymore as a Republican, ya know find another party.
WILLIAMS: Well, hang on a second. Let me just speak up and say that I think the reason you're saying it's a Ponzi scheme is because the people who expect to get the benefits have not paid in as much as they will take out. In fact, they are relying on the current generation for --
BAIER: Or if they'll see it all when they're of age
WILLIAMS: You are talking about the future of young people. Separate that issue out.
WILLIAMS: Let me just speak to you for a second. What is wrong with Americans having a social compact that is essentially a safety net for those who have retired and otherwise would face terrible --
CARLSON: You're arguing a macro point --
CARLSON: There is nothing in theory wrong with that at all. We're talking not in theory though. We are talking about a very specific program called Social Security.
WILLIAMS: Yeah and it's a good program --
CARLSON: -- whose basis is actually built on fluff. Let's just be honest about it.
WILLIAMS: This program is not built on fluff. It has been financially stable since FDR, and it is even by Rick Perry's estimate -
WILLIAMS: No, just a moment. Even by Rick Perry's estimate if you go to 2037, about 30 years from now, it still is going to be sufficient even as we are pulling money away from the trust fund.
KRAUTHAMMER: Juan, a Ponzi scheme would work if it were mandatory. The reason that Ponzi, Charles Ponzi, ended up in jail is because it's not mandatory. It can be a Ponzi scheme, but because everybody has to actually pay in, it can work. Ultimately, if the demographics are out of whack, as they are now, it will fail even if mandatory. Therefore, it has to be actually --
WILLIAMS: But Charles, you can have reductions in benefits and age requirements in order to keep it stable.
KRAUTHAMMER: That's exactly --
BAIER: I want to quickly turn, very quickly, to this New York special election in which the Republican is at 50 percent, Bob Turner, over David Weprin in New York. This is Anthony Weiner's district. Tucker, if this happens and the Republican takes that seat, what does it say?
CARLSON: Weprin is the perfect candidate. His father is a political legend in New York. He himself is elected to office, he's running against a guy who has never been elected to anything who is 70 years old. This race is about Obama. If the Republican wins you will see Democrats in the next two weeks begin to distance themselves, national Democrats from the president. They have no choice. They're gonna be afraid.
BAIER: We'll talk about it tomorrow. Got to run. That's it for panel. But stay tuned to hear how the NFL season opener took a very political turn.
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