Discuss as:

Gingrich knocks Perry, says, 'Social Security is a fact'

EXETER, N.H. -- Newt Gingrich wrapped his latest New Hampshire swing by calling Social Security "a fact" and drew a distinction from Perry in his approach to the matter.

Speaking to 125 retirees at RiverWoods Retirement Community, Gingrich hit back at Rick Perry on his social security debate remarks.

"Social security is a fact," he said.

He went on to advocate a plan for those younger than 40 to choose either a personal investment option or the current system.

"For those above 48, nothing changes,” Gingrich said. “We would keep the current system.” (His communications staff clarified said that is an approximate age.) Remember, Gingrich caught flak from conservatives for deriding Rep. Paul Ryan’s approach to reforming Medicare, calling it “right-wing social engineering.”

He said economic growth is the key to making Social Security work in the short term.

Asked by a retired physician about his position on healthcare, Gingrich even said he agrees with parts of Obama's health-care plan but did not think the vast majority was acceptable.

Gingrich also said he supports drug testing for everyone who receives federal aid; criticized Warren Buffett and Bill Gates for putting money into tax-free foundations; and called poverty in America both "cultural and structural" and advocated that welfare recipients to work toward an equity stake in public housing.

Gingrich has no public events scheduled this weekend and will appear at the CNN Tampa debate Monday night.