SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- Michele Bachmann is on the defensive about comments she made earlier this week suggesting that vaccination against a virus linked to cervical cancer poses a danger to young girls.
“During the debate, I didn’t make any statements that would indicate that I’m a doctor, I’m a scientist, or that I’m making any conclusions about the drug one way or another,” the GOP presidential hopeful told reporters here who questioned her about the story she told suggesting that the vaccine had caused mental retardation. Asked whether she would apologize for comments that outraged medical experts say will discourage parents from getting their children immunized, Bachmann said: “Oh, I’m not going to answer that.”
During the Republican debate, Bachmann attacked her rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, for mandating vaccinations against the human papillomavirus for school girls – a decision that the state Legislature later overruled.
“To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong,” she said during the debate.
After the debate, Bachmann took her critique a step further, describing in several television interviews how a tearful mother had approached her following the debate and said that her daughter “suffered mental retardation” after being vaccinated.
Talking to reporters here, outside a breakfast meeting with tea party supporters, the Minnesota congresswoman tried to steer the conversation away from the science and back to Perry.
“I think if you look at the debate, my point was very clear and it’s the fact that there was an abuse of power,” she said. “And then, secondary after that, is the idea of crony capitalism.” Merck, the pharmaceutical firm that manufactures the HPV vaccine, has been a major political contributor to Perry.