GOP Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is coming under fire from some conservatives over remarks she made regarding the drug Gardasil – the drug mandated in Texas Governor Rick Perry’s executive order.
Monday night, she told Fox News’ Greta van Susteren that a tearful mother approached her after the debate, claiming that her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of the drug.
Tuesday morning, she repeated the story while appearing on NBC’s Today show.
“I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Fla., after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter,” Bachmann said.
She continued: “The mother was crying what she came up to me last night. I didn’t know who she was before the debate. This is the very real concern and people have to draw their own conclusions.”
Asked if she would continue to hammer away at the HPV issue, Bachmann said it was an appropriate way to draw “very real distinctions” with Perry over the use of executive power.
“You can’t abuse executive authority with executive orders, because there could be very negative consequences that the American people have to pay,” she said. “There is no second chance for these little girls if there is any dangerous consequences to their bodies.”
In an article on her website, conservative columnist Michelle Malkin said that while Bachmann is right on the principle, she is wrong on the details, and took exception to her anecdotal evidence:
After successfully highlighting Perry’s troubling abuse of executive power during last night’s debate, Michele Bachmann risks blowing it with some factually inaccurate assertions.
She’s RIGHT on the principles, wrong on some of the details.
She needs to stay on message and stick with the facts.
The Texas state legislature repealed the order (over Perry’s hysterical objections) before any girl was forcibly vaccinated.
And while individual stories of Gardasil harm may or may not be true (Bachmann cited a mother who thinks the vaccine caused mental retardation in her child while making the post-debate rounds), it’s not the primary case she should be making.
Again: Bachmann is RIGHT on the principles, but it gets dicey citing cases where individual anecdotes need to be vetted before tossing them out on TV. She came dangerously close to using the same demagogic tactics Perry employed in obstinately defending the order even after it was repealed.
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday that Bachmann “jumped the shark” in an attack Limbaugh said deserves “shame.”
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey adds:
The main issue for Perry’s actions were the way he attempted to impose the mandate (by executive order) and the connections to Merck, both of which are fair game. As long as critics both inside and outside the race stick to those points, it’s an effective attack. If the debate broadens to Gardasil itself as Bachmann tried to do, Perry may not be the only governor who will have to answer questions about Gardasil itself, however. Pajamas Media’s Bryan Preston reaches into the Wayback machine and discovers the state of Alaska cheerfully accepting federal funds in order to distribute Gardasil for free during Sarah Palin’s tenure as Governor
Perry came under fire for the executive order during Monday’s debate.
Although he admitted the order was a mistake, the issue of “crony capitalism” came up, with Bachmann claiming Perry signed the order because it would benefit a large pharmaceutical company – Merck – that had contributed $5,000 to his gubernatorial campaign.
“I raised about $30 million and if you’re saying I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended,” he said.
“I’m offended for all the little girls and parents that didn’t have a choice,” Bachmann fired back.
The Merck push is still ongoing in other states, as I’ve reported. California is pushing forward with legislation making it possible to dispense the shots through the state to children as young as 12 without the permission of their parents.
If Obama sponsored a Gardasil mandate law, took Merck money and had a staffer-turned-Merck lobbyist, it would be an issue.
Malkin also cites a post at the National Review Online that reports Perry has received over $28,000 from Merck in the last ten years.
Katrina Trinko wrote:
When Rick Perry joked last night that the $5,000 he had received from Merck wasn’t enough to buy him off, the line failed to charm the audience as he’d expected. Turns out, the line also significantly low-balled how much he’d received from Merck. “Merck PAC—the company’s D.C.-based political action committee—has given Perry $28,500 since 2001, according to Texas Ethics Commission filings. The bulk of that money came prior to 2007,” the Los Angeles Times reports today.
Perry dismissed Bachmann’s theories on Gardasil, comparing them to theories linking vaccinations to autism.
“You heard the same arguments about giving our children protections from some of the childhood diseases, and they were, autism was part of that. Now we’ve subsequently found out that was generated and not true,” he told NBC News’ Carrie Dann.
“I would suggest to you that this issue about Gardasil and making it available was about saving people’s lives,” Perry added.
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