09/12/2011 11:16 am ET | Updated Nov 12, 2011

Rick Perry Social Security Op-Ed: 'We Must Have The Guts' To Discuss State Of Program

In a USA Today op-ed published online on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry seeks to clarify his position on Social Security.

The Texas governor writes that he believes current recipients of Social Security benefits should be protected from potential reforms to the entitlement program. For younger Americans, however, he says, "We must consider reforms to make Social Security financially viable."

Perry explains, "For too long, politicians have been afraid to speak honestly about Social Security." He adds, "We must have the guts to talk about its financial condition if we are to fix Social Security and make it financially viable for generations to come."

The attempt from Perry to outline his position on Social Security comes one week after the Republican hopeful raised eyebrows with harsh language he used in addressing the issue during last week's GOP presidential debate in California.

During the forum, Perry didn't run from his past characterization of Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme." He also repeated his criticism of the entitlement program as a "monstrous lie."

The Texas governor, however, did abandon his use of the questionable choice of words in Monday's op-ed.

HuffPost's Jon Ward reported last week:

Indeed, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- who was the frontrunner until Perry entered the race -- has gone for Perry's jugular, painting the Texan as wanting to "end" or "abolish" Social Security. Perry could have countered that charge by saying Romney was mischaracterizing his position. But he and his staff have been slow to do so, raising questions about how exactly Perry wants to deal with the program.

Meanwhile, the Washington Examiner reports that U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann is preparing to take aim at Perry over the issue during a presidential debate being held in Florida on Monday night.

"Bernie Madoff deals with Ponzi schemes, not the grandparents of America," an adviser to the conservative congresswoman tells the Examiner. "Clearly [Bachmann] feels differently about the value of Social Security than Gov. Perry does. She believes Social Security needs to be saved, that it's an important safety net for Americans who have paid into it all their lives."

A CNN/ORC poll released on Monday shows Perry to be running at the front of the GOP presidential pack.

Below, video of what Perry had to say about Social Security during last week's debate.