CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry visited West Virginia last Wednesday to campaign and raise money for Republican Bill Maloney in his race for governor, calling him a "true fiscal conservative."
During a statewide radio interview with Hoppy Kercheval on MetroNews Talkline on Wednesday morning, Perry said he wants to eliminate the current Social Security system and attacked incumbent Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for supporting it.
Perry called Social Security a "Ponzi scheme" that threatens the future of our children.
In a Friday news release, Maloney praised Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal -- who campaigned for him in West Virginia on Tuesday -- for "leading the way on job creation and reform in their states. From ethics reform to energy independence, there is so much we can learn from the examples that Louisiana and Texas are setting."
But late Friday afternoon, Maloney distanced himself sharply from Perry's comments that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme that should be eliminated.
"I do not agree with Governor Perry's remarks on Social Security. Social Security is critical to West Virginia's seniors and we need to send leaders to Washington who will save it for the next generation," Maloney said in a statement provided to the Sunday Gazette-Mail.
During his Wednesday radio interview with Perry, Kercheval pointed out Tomblin's campaign criticized him for calling "Social Security unconstitutional and a Ponzi scheme."
Kercheval said Tomblin's campaign stated, "Bill Maloney praises a man who wants to gamble Social Security money on Wall Street. But without Social Security, half of West Virginia [seniors] would be living in poverty."
Perry told Kercheval, "I did call it a Ponzi scheme. ... If Mr. Tomblin wants to defend Social Security and defend Washington, D.C. that has spent our kid's fortunes ... in the form of Social Security payments, then that's his fault....
"To hear him [Tomblin] say that Social Security is not a Ponzi Scheme tells me he may be flaking for the current [Obama] administration, which is not good politics and certainly not good policy."
During his Talkline interview and a press conference in Charleston late Wednesday afternoon, Perry repeatedly praised Maloney for his fiscally conservative views.
On Thursday, before Maloney had commented, Tomblin's campaign spokesman Chris Stadelman said, "Bill Maloney may agree with Rick Perry that we should abandon our senior citizens, but Gov. Tomblin certainly does not.
"After 18 months of running for governor, Bill Maloney still refuses to provide West Virginians with specific ideas. That means voters have to look at his role models to figure out what kind of governor he would be. And they're not going to like what they see."
Reach Paul J. Nyden At pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.