Political reality forcing Perry to shift rhetoric

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson talks about the changing tone of Rick Perry's rhetoric.

By Peggy Fikac

AUSTIN — As Gov. Rick Perry strides farther down the campaign trail, the question is becoming how far he'll walk back his positions on volatile issues.

From one debate to the next — and there's another this week — he's softened his rhetoric on Social Security from a “Ponzi scheme” to a “slam-dunk” guarantee that the program, while in need of change, will continue for those on it or near eligibility. . .

“I think they (Perry advisers) are feverishly working on new articulations of his views. I don't think that he can stand where he is on ... Social Security, HPV and the Dream Act,” said Cal Jillson, professor of political science at Southern Methodist University.

Jillson noted Perry's “significant adjustment on Social Security and said he must go further in emphasizing reform rather than radically changing or dismantling the program. . .

Perry's in a tough position on the immigrant tuition issue because he's defended it for so long, Jillson said: “I don't think he can do a 180 on it. He's got to show some humility, show that he understands where the Republican primary electorate is on the issue.”

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