Rick Perry has taken a lot of heat for signing an executive order in 2007 requiring HPV vaccination for all girls in Texas. Michele Bachmann accused him of doing so because he was lobbied by Merck, the drug company that produced the vaccine.
But at this week's debate, Perry had a pretty good answer to that accusation. In fact, it was probably his finest moment during an otherwise very unimpressive performance:
"I got lobbied on this issue. I got lobbied by a 31-year-old young lady who had Stage 4 cervical cancer. I spent a lot of time with her. She came by my office, talked to me about the program."
Perry isn't exactly known for his compassion, but that's a pretty compelling reason to mandate vaccination. And it sure sounds a lot better than some of the other suggested reasons he might have been moved to support mandatory vaccination:
Over the past five years, it turns out that Merck [the company that manufacturers the vaccine] gave over $350,000 to the Republican Governors Association, a period in which Perry was heavily involved with the group, and the RGA in turn gave $4 million to Rick Perry.
And wait some more! Merck's lobbyist on the vaccine issue was Mike Toomey, Perry's former chief of staff. Toomey recently co-founded a super PAC that plans to raise over $50 million for Perry's campaign.
And that's on top of the $30,000 Merck has donated directly to Perry in the past. But Perry insisted that all that money—well, the $5,000 he was willing to admit he'd received, anyway—wasn't the reason he signed an executive order mandating the vaccine. No, it was because he was lobbied by one young woman suffering with cancer. Just one problem—it's not true
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