Bachmann and Palin (and Santoram) have tag-teamed Perry over his Gardasil flip-flop. The way things look.  Gardasil and Cronyism may dominate the GOP room until the next debate, two weeks away. While I thought Bachmann would bludgeon Perry with the issue, I have not really felt the HPV vaccine mandate would fatally injure Perry; however, it may harm him in a proverbial ” its the little foxes that destroy the whole vineyard” kind of way.

It may have more resonance generally than I originally thought. This TV commercial was prepared by the Democratic Governor’s Association and something like it could work in the South.

According to Politico,

Raymond Glendening, the former DGA political director now at the online organizing startup, recalled that the HPV issue “cut across partisan lines” in Democratic message-testing.
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“We polled and focus grouped this. The focus groups really showed that this hurt Perry among conservatives. It had a libertarian infringement on personal rights feeling to it for them,” Glendening wrote in an email. “They believed he was moving government into a personal family decision. It resonated at the abortion/euthanasia level.”

Or try this unaired one from Republican Kaye Bailey Hutchison.

Romney is loving life: RomneyCare, what’s that? Sarah Palin is salivating; if he continues to slip, I think she’s in.


Ross Douthat analogizes:

As Perry fumbled his way through last night’s Republican primary debate, though, the Texas governor seemed a lot more like Howard Dean in 2004 — a candidate, again, who many Democratic primary voters wanted to support, because he was speaking their language and gleefully throwing insults in the teeth of a president they hated, but also a candidate whose weaknesses were obvious enough that he couldn’t finally make the sale.

One interesting quality that Perry has in common with Dean, and which last night’s various back-and-forths brought out, is the extent to which both his national profile and his personal affect are much more ideological than his actual gubernatorial record. Dean was a center-left and fiscally conservative governor who rebranded himself as the leader of the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,” and whose public persona on the campaign trail — as a stridently anti-Iraq War Vermonter who changed churches over a bike path dispute — seemed to embody all the stereotypes associated with blue state liberals. Likewise, Perry is a Texan Gaullist (corporatist, pro-immigration, HPV vaccinating, etc.) who has rebranded himself as an anti-New Deal Tea Partier, and whose heat-packing, convict-executing, treason-accusing persona makes him seem like the perfect embodiment of the current right-wing id.

But whereas Dean wasn’t often attacked from the left during the 2004 race (save over his professed desire to be the candidate of “guys with Confederate flags on their pickup trucks”), Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are all happy to exploit Perry’s ideological deviations, which left the Texas governor taking fire from the center and the right alike last night. Maybe this will just toughen Perry up and make him a more nimble and formidable general election candidate. But he didn’t look particularly nimble or formidable on the CNN stage; he looked overconfident and ill-prepared.

During the Dean bubble of 2004, National Review ran a famous cover story showing a ranting Dean over the banner: “Please nominate this man.” If I were running a left-wing magazine — The Nation, Mother Jones, Tina Brown’s Newsweek — I would consider recycling that cover line with Perry’s picture over it.

Evidently, Mitt Romney thinks the “Social Security is a Ponzi-scheme “is Perry’s weakness. He has a new handout (direct-mail?) piece that the Obama campaign will be able to photoshop pretty easily.  While Perry has softened his firm position some, I don’t see this being too powerful, within the GOP primary.  Perhaps, in a last-man-standing type strategy, Romney continues to believes that Perry and Bachmann (and Palin?) will destroy themselves and each other before the primaries.

On the other hand, Bachmann sees Perry’s Open-borders position represents the real vulnerability in the primary. She is probably right. (Bachmann cannot say too much about Social Security; she trumped Perry by calling Social Security “one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated on the American public.“)

Immigration is certainly more toxic when considered by Tea Party sympathizers. Accordingly, a pro-Bachman PAC has just released this ad in South Carolina:

We will see how he explains this “liberal” position.

UPDATE: New CNN poll shows no impact of Perry’s statements about Social Security.

Rick Perry has soared past Romney and Bachmann in the past few weeks in polls. It was inevitable that the Perry and Reomney would begin lobbing political grenades at each other. Each have “huge” problems with the Tea Party wing of the GOP electorate.

Will Romney’s “ObamneyCare” prove fatal?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry chastised Mitt Romney’s health care plan Thursday, but said he believes the former governor of Massachusetts is beginning to see the light.

“I think Mitt is finally recognizing that the Massachusetts health care plan that he passed is a huge problem for him,” he told conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham in an interview.

And the 2012 GOP contender attempted to lump Romney in with health care reform passed last year by a Democratic-controlled Congress and signed into law by President Obama, a potentially toxic tie-in for conservative voters.

“I think Obamacare, which was modeled after the Massachusetts plan, was an absolute debacle.” Perry said, in an ongoing effort to topple Romney’s GOP frontrunner status.

Will “DREAMer” Gov. Rick Perry’s “open-borders” record be more toxic than healthcare?

The Romney campaign also plans to use immigration to drive a wedge between Perry and his conservative base, by highlighting Perry’s opposition to a border fence and legislation he signed in 2001 allowing the children of illegal immigrants to attend Texas colleges and universities at in-state tuition. Without mentioning Perry by name, Romney pointed out at a town hall here in Dover that he vetoed similar legislation as governor of Massachusetts, declaring, “If you say, guess what, if you come here illegally, your kids will get [in-state tuition], that draws more people here illegally.” Romney strategists believe the immigration issue will be devastating for Perry with Tea Party Republicans across the country — and especially in important primary states like Arizona.

I expect Romney to be the victor of this battle.  If Romney wins, perhaps Riley still has a chance to get that VP nod. Yipee! (BTW, Did you notice that Mike Rogers and Kay Ivey, staunch Rileyites, are the co-chairs of the Alabama for Romney campaign; the Riley camp seems to be rejecting Perry, the other southern governor.)

That did not take long.

I suggested Gov. Rick Perry was going to take a bludgeoning from Rep. Michelle Bachmann over his executive order mandating the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, for all girls entering sixth grade. Evidently, his campaign handlers thought the same thing. On the day, he announced his candidacy for President, he reversed course.

For years, Gov. Rick Perry has taken flak for his 2007 attempt to require girls to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, the most commonly sexually transmitted disease and the principal cause of cervical cancer. At the risk of angering fellow conservatives, Perry has always insisted he did the right thing.

That unapologetic approach changed this weekend.

A few hours after unveiling his campaign for president, Perry began walking back from one of the most controversial decisions of his more-than-10-year reign as Texas governor. Speaking to voters at a backyard party in New Hampshire, Perry said he was ill-informed when he issued his executive order, in February 2007, mandating the HPV vaccine for all girls entering sixth grade, unless their parents completed a conscientious-objection affidavit form. The vaccine, Merck & Co.’s Gardasil, would have protected against the forms of HPV that cause about 70 percent of all cervical cancer, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

“I signed an executive order that allowed for an opt-out, but the fact of the matter is that I didn’t do my research well enough to understand that we needed to have a substantial conversation with our citizenry,” Perry said at the Manchester, N.H., event in response to an audience question about the HPV controversy, according to ABC News’ The Note.

This reversal is a distinct change from his prior “unapologetic approach” of the executive order, just last year.

Until now, Perry never yielded to opponents who said he should have handled the issue differently rather than through a unilateral executive order. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison tried to make it an issue in her gubernatorial campaign to unseat him in 2010. In a January 2010 debate, Perry defended his decision to issue the executive order. It was not a mistake — “no sir, not from my position,” he said. “I stand proudly by my pro-life position. . .”

. . . Later, in a September 2010 interview after an East Texas gubernatorial campaign swing, Perry was still sticking to his guns that his decision to issue the executive order was the right thing to do.

Bachmann will still use this and now she can add flip-flopping on pro-family issues to his resume.

The primary beneficiary of Perry’s flip-flop over this issue is not Bachmann, but Mitt Romney.  Perry just gutted a potent weapon against Mitt Romney in a GOP primary. Romney, of course, had been pro-choice his entire career until he decided to run for President. Perry just gave Romney the best answer to that attack. If Perry attacks Romney’s flip-flopping position on abortion, Romney can simply retort: “I did not do my research at the time and study the issue well enough, just like you changed your mind on Gardasil, I change my mind after closer study.”

Huge victory for Romney in the GOP primary.

Gov. Rick Perry has announced that he will announce his candidacy tomorrow in South Carolina. (In fact, he is speaking today to the Alabama GOP) In my opinion, the GOP presidential field is narrowing toward a Mitt Romney vs Michelle Bachmann or Rick Perry.  (Bachmann has shown herself much superior to Sarah Palin; so Palin is a non-starter if she jumps in.) I thought that Perry could bullrush Bachmann’s campaign until I saw this. Bachmann and Perry will mostly vie for the evangelical right wing of the GOP. With that audience, Bachmann can wear him out with his Gardasil issue:

In January 2007, Gardasil was put on the “recommended” immunization schedule issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control. Merck immediately mounted a massive lobbying effort of state legislatures around the country to get Gardasil added to their respective lists of state-mandated vaccines.

But in Texas, Gov. Perry chose to bypass the legislature and on Feb. 2, 2007, he issued an executive order making Texas the first state in the country requiring all sixth-grade girls to receive the three-shot vaccination series (which cost about $120 per shot). The move generated a fierce public debate. Conservatives slammed Perry for promoting what they saw as an intrusion by the state into private health decisions of parents and their children. Some also complained that the mandate would encourage promiscuity among teenagers.

As referenced in the that article, the potency of this issue lies in culmination of high value issues for conservative Evangelicals.

First, conservative Christian organizations vehemently opposed this mandate. For instance, the Family Research Council produced this brochure dedicated solely to HPV and Gardasil.  FRC stated:

We feel that a mandate infringes on the right of parents to make decisions regarding their children’s medical care. Since genital HPV is not spread by casual contact, there is insufficient public health justification to require vaccination for school attendance. A mandate may also lead parents to believe that the vaccine is the only available way to reduce the risk of cervical cancer and HPV infection,
which is untrue.

The American Life League was little more direct:

Gov. Perry has turned his back on the pro-life and pro-family people who elected him and is now playing into the agenda of Planned Parenthood, a group which regularly opposes parents’ rights and which praised his action as ‘a great day for women and for future generations of Texas women and families.

. . . “Gardasil is a vaccination against a sexually transmitted virus, and parents should be the ones to decide whether their young daughters should receive these shots – not Planned Parenthood, and not the governor of any state. American Life League strongly opposes such a mandatory vaccine because it completely removes parents from these important medical decisions and makes children the innocent victims.”

. . . “Planned Parenthood’s own internal documents show that the organization makes most of its income from sexually active, young, single women. Not only does Planned Parenthood stand to profit by selling these expensive HPV vaccines, but it also will profit enormously from the aftermath of the sexual promiscuity that will surely follow when young girls are led to believe they can be sexually carefree without consequence once they receive these shots.

As you can see, many Evangelicals and conservative Catholics see this as an infringement on the responsibility of parents to raise their children. Parental rights certainly include the prerogative of parents to decide when and how to discuss these sensitive issues with their daughters. Focus on the Family warned, that state officials, not parents, would become the primary sexual-health decision makers for America’s children.

Most southern evangelicals advocate abstinence as a matter of conscience and religious principle over just “safe-sex.”  Evangelicals will see this as violating those religious rights of families by subjecting their children to the HPV vaccination because it “preaches” immorality and acts as a counter to abstinence.

On top of that, in GOP circles, you can only use the terms “health-care” and “mandate” together in a sentence when you are derisively speaking of President Obama and the Democrats. Now, in relation to Perry, Bachmann will be able to add  “abstinence” and “Planned Parenthood” to the toxic mix. She might argue like something this: “Not only did Perry mandate an health-care procedure on every family and young girl, but whereas I have been the leader in the fight for abstinence and purity as the only safe-sex, Perry, by catering to the money-making interests of Planned Parenthood, tried to remove a God-designed,  natural incentive to abstain from pre-marital intercourse.” Watch for it.

In addition, his executive order appears to have been unduly influenced by corporate profits.

The controversy over Perry’s decision deepened as it came to light that his former chief of staff was a lobbyist for Merck and that his chief of staff’s mother-in-law, Rep. Dianne White Delisi, was the state director of an advocacy group bankrolled by Merck to push legislatures across the country to put forward bills mandating the Gardasil vaccine for preteen girls.

As Bachmann did to Pawlenty last night in the debate over Cap-and-Trade, she will have a real wedge issue with the southern conservatives and evangelicals more generally.