Heck Campaigns in Reno, Answers Social Security Charge

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RENO, NV - Republican Senate candidate Joe Heck brought his campaign to northern Nevada with an aim to talk about jobs. It didn't turn out that way.

People who run campaigns like to set a message for the day and stick with to the script. Sometimes it doesn't work out that way.

At this stage of his campaign, the southern Nevada congressman needs to raise his profile at this end of the state. That's one aim of his visit. The other was to talk about jobs.

But as Heck headed north, a Democratic spokesman brought up an old quote and potentially hot button issue, Social Security.

Once, in an interview, Heck likened it to a pyramid scheme and, it's been charged, he wants to privatize it. He's tried to walk back that comment periodically ever since.

The Democratic operative cannily attached the issue to his party's own release on Heck's visit. It was picked up and reported and then was reinforced by a Democratic press conference scheduled just ahead of Heck's appearance.

"I think it would be a disgrace if we decided to give fees to Wall Street at the expense of the people who basically built the roads that we drive on, built the schools that are children are in and protected our freedoms in World War 2," said former State Treasurer Kate Marshall.

An hour later Congressman Heck was across town fielding questions about that pyramid scheme quote.

"That happened six years ago and the Democrats have used it every campaign cycle for the last three campaigns," said Heck. "And every time we've addressed the issue that as much as they try to pigeonhole me on Social Security, the fact is we've got to fix Social Security. We need to be able to shore up Social Security so it's protected for those that are currently getting it and preserved for future generations."

For the record, Heck says he's talking about a government fix, possibly a gradual increase in the retirement age.

"Increasing it by one month a year for the next 24 years so that 24 years from now the retirement age would be 69 as opposed to 67. If you did that you could extend the life and solvency of Social Security out to 2070. So I think that's something that should be looked at."

There was time for a quick pivot back to the day's planned message.

"Now that we're running statewide we want to hear what's going on all across the state, what we're doing in Washington and how it affects local businesses."