Romney, Perry strongly differ on Social Security

By PHILIP ELLIOTT | September 9, 2011 | 4:15 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Social Security has become a major divide in the contest between Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.

The votes of seniors — in aging Iowa, the retiree haven of Florida and elsewhere — could be at stake.

Perry isn't backing down from calling the safety-net program a "Ponzi scheme." Romney is defending Social Security, and arguing that the GOP shouldn't choose a nominee who demonizes a program so many Americans depend on.

Romney wants to expose Perry's vulnerability on the program that seniors hold dear and Democrats hold sacrosanct. And he's trying to reclaim the front-runner mantle from Perry, who entered the race just last month.