Gay marriage, abortion, women's rights, guns, etc...will never be non-issues for Republicans. It's become too deeply entrenched in the politics. They live for the social issues...that's what gets them the votes because most people ignore fiscal issues unless the economy seems to be doing poorly...and Reps will legislate their version of our morality whenever they are in office.
We already raised the social security age...back in the early 80's, we raised the age to receive full retirement benefits to 67 for folks born after 1960. I don't know how much older you think we can go, considering that poorer folks...the very people who need the benefits...have much lower life expectancy than rich folks and are mostly dead by 67. Or maybe that was your point...to cut benefits for poor folks, but let the rich folks have full benefits.
Pawlenty is a woman hater. Romney is a cult-member (mormon) and America won't be electing a mormon anytime soon. The Rep pool is looking pretty dim.