Romney batters Perry with ads on Social Security, immigration

The video warns that Perry's plan could mean Florida faces a $16 billion shortfall, requiring it to cut costs either elsewhere in the state budget or to the program by cutting around $4,000 per recipient or cutting off benefits to some seniors altogether. The video's graphics show a paper chain representing seniors, with one paper figure being snipped off the end due to Perry's proposed reform.

Romney and Perry have accused each other of “scaring seniors” in their fiery debates over Social Security since Perry entered the race. Romney has attacked Perry over his use of the phrase “Ponzi scheme” to describe the program, and Perry has continued to press his point that the program is in crisis and in urgent need of reform. Perry's spokesman, in turn, accused Romney of “sounding like a Democrat” in his defense of Social Security.

Romney has invoked a popular Republican former president to back his position. “Ronald Reagan believed in Social Security. I believe in Social Security,” Romney said in September at his last Florida town hall. Romney expects the topic to have particular resonance in Florida, where more than one in five residents are on Social Security.

Romney has also sought to gain traction against Perry by targeting his stance on immigration, releasing a Web ad last week that “thanked” Perry on behalf of former Mexican President Vicente Fox.

On Tuesday, the campaign took advantage of President Obama's visit to Dallas for a fundraiser to point out similarities between Perry's stance on illegal immigration and Obama's, particularly on the subject of in-state tuition breaks. As governor, Perry extended in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants who had lived in Texas three years or graduated from a Texas high school.

Perry has blamed the federal government for not securing the border, leaving him to deal with the fallout as governor of a border state.