ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Republican Michele Bachmann is feeling the sting of a presidential campaign jab gone awry, while the target is using the flap to shore up his pro-life credentials.

Bachmann is trying to regain her footing in the race after a late-summer slide. At a GOP debate sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express Monday she tried to raise doubts about front-runner Rick Perry among conservatives and libertarian-style tea party members critical to both candidates.

Bachmann criticized Perry, the Texas governor, for signing an order requiring middle-school girls in his state to get vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, known as HPV. But in the following days, she linked the vaccine to mental retardation. Medical experts roundly disputed the claim, calling it irresponsible and dangerous.

Following a fundraiser in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Perry admits he “made a mistake in the way I took this forward” in 2007. But he categorized his support for the mandate under the same moral conviction that makes him opposed to abortion.

“I’ve sat on the side of a bed with a young lady as she was dying of cervical cancer. It had an impact on me,” Perry said. “Did I mishandle this law? I’ve readily admitted that I did.”

Political observers say Bachmann’s comments in the days after the debate muddied her shot at Perry.

“It’s an absolute blown hit,” said David Welch, an unaligned GOP strategist who worked for nominee John McCain in 2008. “It’s the difference between the ready-for-prime-time political candidate and the not-ready-for-prime-time political candidate. You just don’t repeat what somebody just told you.”

In post-debate TV interviews, Bachmann said that a tearful woman approached her to attribute her daughter’s mental retardation to the HPV vaccine called Gardasil.

Doctors and other immunization advocates criticized her comments as unfounded, irresponsible and dangerous. Some expressed worry that nervous parents would take the claim as fact and refuse inoculation for their children.

“It’s the obligation of politicians to know the facts before they talk about vaccinations. They should understand how they work, how important they are and how much work goes into recommendations for their use,” said Dr. Deborah Wexler, executive director of the Immunization Action Coalition, a vaccine information clearinghouse for doctors and the public.

Wexler added in an interview Wednesday, “It harms our vaccination program when public figures make statements that are untrue and do it in an emotional statement.”

Bachmann has since ratcheted her comments back.

“I am not a doctor. I am not a scientist. I’m not a physician,” Bachmann told Fox News host Sean Hannity when asked if she personally believed a Gardasil injection could cause retardation.

Bachmann wasn’t available Wednesday for an interview with The Associated Press, but spokeswoman Alice Stewart said the congresswoman’s message was about more than the safety of the vaccine.

“The point she was making dealt with the overreach of executive authority and crony capitalism,” Stewart said.

The HPV vaccine issue also simmered in Bachmann’s home state of Minnesota, but not wasn’t as explosive as in Texas. By the time the issue reached the Legislature in 2007, Bachmann was in Congress. The bill was introduced but never got a hearing.

Minnesota law requires schoolchildren to get vaccines for rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, polio and hepatitis B.

The state’s childhood immunization law underwent minor changes while Bachmann was a state senator. She supported all of the revisions, which mostly dealt with timing of previously mandated vaccinations, recordkeeping and requirements that health providers more closely track problems with vaccines.

Opponents of required HPV immunizations draw a distinction between the vaccine and those for other communicable diseases like mumps and polio. They argue parents should have the ultimate say on the HPV because it is aimed at stopping sexually transmitted diseases spread by risky behavior.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (22)
  1. G Dog says:

    Another example of a stupid remark by an uninformed Tea Party darling. And some people want her to be President?

    Just ‘cuz you say it Michele, doesn’t make it true.

    Quit now. Then apologize to the people of the Sixth District for being a phony and an embarrassment.

  2. rcam says:

    I don’t think her brain will ever catch up with her mouth. Her mouth just goes and goes,but never says anything smart.

  3. Hey Michelle!! says:

    Na-na-nah-na, na-na-nah-na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye
    Na-na-nah-na, na-na-nah-na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye!!

    1. Really? says:

      Wow, you spent a lot of time counting out the na na’s, and placing the dashes and commas. It really makes your comment pop and highlights your towering intellect. It’s actually pretty impressive for a liberal. Gold star.

      1. herpderp says:

        You took the time to reply though, didn’t you?

  4. Murph says:

    Censorship comes with a PRICE!

    1. Murph says:

      These candidates,using the term very liberally,have glaring and quite obvious problems with their mental processes.Be it inspired by monetary enrichment or personal ignorance and unexposed addictions and greed! While disappointment with the candidates is obvious,disappointment with the messengers is often kept inside! We have learned,especially of recent,that money and influence can bend the truth into something beyond rational interprettion.Until the media stops disseminating absolute .unquestionably pure garbage for headline value! We are all left wondering. Wondering what IF the only things that are spoken are the truth,Michele constantly exhibits an aversion to telling the truth.No doubt a conservative VALUE. But of no value to ordinary,[non 2%] Americans!

  5. The Jig Is Up says:

    “I am not a doctor. I am not a scientist. I’m not a physician,” We know that, honey. What’s odd is that you go ballistic on Perry for requiring Gardasil, saying it’s something people should be able to choose, all the while trying to take away other kinds of choices, like… control of one’s body. I guess it all depends on what’s in or on the body that makes the difference.

    1. Ivalene says:

      Your website has to be the eceltroinc Swiss army knife for this topic.

  6. Murph says:

    Marcus might be a saint! Because an ordinary male would not venture even close to Michele.I have been known to have one too many.But there is not enough booze or beer in this liberally imbibing country to make her the least bit attractive to any male drunk or especially sober! So while a few female votes may go her way.Anyone who has seen ,read about or even heard of pure nut cases should and probably would run away screaming.Sorry Michele ,you just ain’t got IT!

  7. Guy W. says:

    After all the blatant lies she’s told about Health Care Reform and about the President, the mainstream, it wasn’t until she lied about a Republican that the corporate-controlled media finally finds that one of her lies stings her back.

    Gee, CBS, thanks for noticing.

  8. Incredulous1 says:

    Why, Oh why, is Ms. Bachmann even in the picture? I just don’t understand!

    1. Huh? says:

      I couldn’t agree more. You really don’t understand.

  9. Sue J says:

    I love these Liberals, please help us Government, we cant take care of ourselves and we think that if you want to give our 12 year old daughters a shot to help them not get an STD or Cancer? go ahead. Because we can’t talk to them about it. When your done giving them shots don’t forget to had out the condoms.

    1. Kieron says:

      Love these conservatives who can’t even spell their own talking points. It’s “When you’re done” not “your.”

  10. rock this vote says:

    Hey liberals – don’t like MB? Tough titty. You don’t matter. Your prez has made a GOP victory in 2012 a lock, and probably cured the country of liberal presidents for the next couple of decades. My coon hound could beat Obama right now and she’s not even on the ballot and she’s been dead for three years. Barack is on his way to being just a horrid memory of a liberal wet dream (nightmare). Next year we’re gonna wake up from it thanking God it’s over. You can go to bed early that night. It won’t even be close. Half the country (the takers) will have longer faces than John Kerry, and the rest of us (the makers and doers) will be grinning like Joe Biden. You’ve got a little over a year to squeal with delight like second grade girls every time MB or Perry (or whomever the nominee will be(I don’t even care) says something you think is funny. But I wouldn’t get to attached to your government cheese if I were you. Or start hoarding it now while Obama is still passing out the goodies. Because after MB takes over instead of a govt. check you’ll be getting a Walmart job application.

    1. snowman says:

      You sir, are an ignorant hillbilly!

      1. Kieron says:

        ROFL. Rock to the noggin is more like it, if you think she has a chance. And I can’t stand Bammy, myself.

        1. rock this says:

          I’m saying it doesn’t matter who the nominee is. Obama is dead as disco. He flamed out and went into a stall over a year ago and has been plummeting back to earth ever since. He can’t restart the engines and he’s too stupid and stubborn to push the eject button. It’s over for Barrack Hussein Obama. Even his base is stampeding away from him like Great White fans fleeing a burning night club. They’re tripping over each other trying to escape the blame for all this economic carnage. They don’t even believe their own rhetoric anymore. I think secretly, even liberals realize this guy is doing all the wrong stuff. His presidency has inoperable cancer, and he’s only got 14 months. Even if he did a 180 and something actually improved, then he have to admit and explain that his entire philosophy for his whole life is moronic and wrong, and manifestly makes all bad things much worse. It might fix the economy but the voters won’t forgive him. It’s too late.

          I’m not making the case for anyone yet, though I like much of the GOP field. I’m just stating the obvious: There is now absolutely nothing Barrack Obama can do to win reelection no matter who runs against him. Pee wee Herman could change his name to “Not Obama” and beat this guy in a landslide. The only necessary quality his opponent needs to have is to not be Obama. Them’s the facts. Don’t shoot the messenger.

  11. Jeff says:

    Hell, I’d do her…..she is one hot bbbbeeeeaaatch

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