Politico detects a change in Republican Jesse Kelly's rhetoric as he prepares to face Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the November general election:
In a Monday e-mail to supporters, his campaign had one message: “Jesse Kelly wants to protect Social Security.”
The same message appeared as a note on his Facebook page, and he reiterated it again during an interview with a local radio station Monday morning.
“I will be on 104.1 FM at 8:00 am to correct Giffords’ distortion of my plan to save Social Security. We must make sure your money is there when you retire,” he wrote in a status update on his Facebook page.
In that radio interview, he laughed off a question about whether he wanted to privatize Social Security and Medicare. And a mailer he sent out after he won the primary features a table claiming that Kelly will “protect Medicare.”
His approach represents a marked shift from comments he made earlier on the campaign trail, when the emphasis was on how to eliminate both Social Security and Medicare.
“If you have any ideas on that, I'm all ears. I would love to eliminate the program,” he told the Tucson Weekly in 2009 when asked about his thoughts on eliminating Social Security.
When asked in a separate radio interview whether Social Security should be privatized, he said: “You must! ... Right now, you have to take steps to reform it, to privatize it, to phase it out."
In the Tucson Weekly interview, he also answered “yes” when asked whether he would support eliminating Medicare. “But to say you’re going to do that instantly would be disingenuous and not realistic and not fair to the people who have earned it.”
Nice shout-out to TW's lengthy Q&A with Kelly, which you can read here.
Meanwhile, Team Giffords has put together a new video that shows Kelly contradicting himself when he says he didn't support a proposal to replace the income tax with a 23 percent sales tax.
Here's what Kelly said at a debate at the UA earlier this year:
The top 10 percent of this country pays 70 percent of the taxes. We continue to squeeze the productive in favor of the unproductive. Government has gone from taxing people in order to fund itself to taxing people to redistribute wealth. We already have socialism by the use of taxation, regulation, licensing in this country. It's time to cut back, completely back. Fair tax, flat tax, I support them both. They're both fantastic and a lot better than what we have now, but we cannot to punish success because everybody knows that when you tax something, you get less of it.
Kelly's preferred tax proposal is zero corporate income taxes and a 10 percent flat income tax.
"If 10 percent was good enough for Jesus Christ," Kelly says, "it's good enough for the federal government."