WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney doesn't yet know if he'll win the Republican bid for president, but he's already thinking of the type of running mate he'd choose: someone like Dick Cheney.
At a town hall meeting in Arizona on Wednesday, an attendee asked Romney if he would pick a Tea Party member as his vice presidential nominee.
Romney didn't directly answer but instead talked about the virtues of Cheney, who served as President George W. Bush's vice president and became known as "Darth Vader" during his time in office.
“I think it was last weekend, I was watching C-SPAN, and I saw Vice President Dick Cheney, and he was being asked questions about a whole host of issues -- following 9/11, the affairs in various countries in the world,” Romney said. “And I listened to him speak and said whether you agree or disagree with him, this is a man of wisdom and judgment, and he could have been president of the United States. That's the kind of person I’d like to have -- a person of wisdom and judgment."
In 2009, Romney also heaped praise upon Cheney in an op-ed in the National Review.
"Former Vice President Cheney seeks no political future. He speaks from the vantage of one who witnessed the killing of our fellow citizens, who deliberated and defined the strategy that would successfully prevent further murders of our fellow Americans. His address today was direct, well-reasoned, and convincing," Romney said, referring to Cheney's national security speech at the American Enterprise Institute.
Romney's town hall on Wednesday was held in Sun Lakes, a retirement community in Arizona. The former Massachusetts governor continued his attacks on Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas), the current frontrunner in the GOP presidential race. He told attendees that "Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme," referring to Perry's remarks on the program during the first GOP presidential debate last month. The remark was met with "laughter" and "approval" from the audience, according to MSNBC.
"Social Security has worked for 75 years pretty darn well," Romney continued. "You guys have not taken advantage of Social Security; you contributed to it. It's a savings plan, a pension plan. There are no bad guys in Social Security, so I don't call it a Ponzi scheme."
The crowd was reportedly "consistently friendly" -- with the exception of one questioner who pressed Romney to admit that the Massachusetts health care plan he signed into law was a failure.
"As he put up his microphone, Romney was mobbed -- as if he were Justin Bieber and the crowd, preteen girls," reported MSNBC. "Autograph seekers with Romney's jobs book in hand, and seniors with iPhones looking for pictures surged around him, as he made his way towards the exits and a final evening fundraiser."