Rick Perry, Mitt Romney spar at latest Republican debate


Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney (L) and Gov. Rick Perry during the presidential debate sponsored by CNN and The Tea Party Express at the Florida State fairgrounds on September 12, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. The debate featured the eight candidates ten days before the Florida straw poll.


Win McNamee

Eight Republican candidates hoping to challenge Barack Obama in the next U.S. presidential election clashed Monday in a televised debate that centered on Rick Perry's views on Social Security.

Perry's controversial opinions about Social Security came under attack at the GOP debate in Tampa, Florida, the BBC reports. In last week's debate, Perry called Social Security a "Ponzi scheme" and a "monstrous lie."

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who is fighting to return as frontrunner in the GOP race, said Perry's tone was "over the top," Agence France-Presse reports.

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Romney also tried to sow doubt about Perry's economic record as governor of Texas, saying that he was just lucky.

In a poll on Monday, Perry had a wide lead over Romney, his main contender. Some 30 percent of Americans surveyed in the poll by CNN and ORC International said they would support Romney as Republican nominee, compared to 18 percent for Romney, the BBC says.

Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann also took on Perry at the latest debate, criticizing his support of vaccinating schoolgirls against a sexually transmitted infection, HPV, Politico says. Bachmann said Perry had been "flat-out wrong."

The next GOP debate will take place September 22 in Orlando, Florida.

More from GlobalPost: Rick Perry calls Social Security a "massive lie" and a Ponzi scheme