Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the GOP presidential front-runner, fended off fierce attacks during Thursday night’s debate from his rivals over his criticism of Social Security and his record on immigration.

Perry, who has faced repeated criticism from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme, said Americans that are in the government’s retirement program or close to joining it have nothing to worry about because it won’t be dismantled.

“Now it’s not the first time that Mitt has been wrong on some issues before,” Perry said, explaining that he only said there should be an option to move from the current system to one operated by the states.

Seven other challengers participated in the debate:.Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, businessman Herman Cain, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Johnson delivered what was perhaps the best line of the night when he attacked President Obama’s record on creating shovel-ready jobs.

“My next-door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs than this current administration,” he said to laughs.

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