EDITOR OF REDSTATE
HPV and Why It Matters
UPDATE: I think it is worth pointing out that as I wake up today Michele Bachmann is overplaying her hand on this issue and it is probably going to go away. The mother-daughter story sounds sympathetic, but it will force the media to delve into the story more and I don’t think the outcome will be favorable to the anti-gardasil side, thus rendering the issue moot.
A lot of my friends and a lot of people here at RedState disagree with me. But I think the HPV issue is a serious issue for Rick Perry. It alone, I don’t think, will undo Rick Perry’s lead. But couple it with his immigration position and I think if not handled well, it causes Perry to slowly hemorrhage support over the primary season.
This morning I ran into Michele Bachmann as she was coming off set at CNN and told her flat out that she “kicked Perry’s ass” in the HPV question. She did.
The issue is two fold.First, it is an issue of liberty. It is not the same as an MMR shot because those diseases are communicable in a way HPV is not. Having the state mandate a shot that only one demographic gets because of what that child may do sexually bothers a lot of conservative voters. Perry needs to do a better job explaining that the opt-out was the parent simply saying “no.” He also needs to make clear again that he would have done it differently and also, if he can, point out that no one actually had the injection because of his executive order.
In fact, if Perry can show that no one had the injection because of his order I think the issue largely goes away.
Second, it is an issue of decision making. Perry conveys that he let emotion guide him in making the decision. That deeply bothers a lot of conservatives. The “I hate cancer” rhetoric does not help him and sounds a bit silly. We all hate a lot of things. Must we mobilize government for each of the things Rick Perry hates? Of course not, but his emotion in the answer does not help him.
Michele Bachmann played her hand well on the issue. The issue resonates with a voter demographic that likes Perry, but is not sold on him. If Perry doesn’t handle it better, it keeps the deal from being sealed. And while you may think this group of people are irrelevant, with this many people in the field, the candidates need all the support they can get.
There is one other reason this issue matters. I was saying six months ago that this issue would be a problem for Perry in the primary. He flubbed his answer when he lost the crowd. That suggests he either was not prepared or could not be made to get prepared for the question (is it staff or is it him?) and also provides a clue that losing the crowd is kryptonite to him in debates.