From Ben Domenech's most excellent Transom comes this, backing up what I think ends this as an issue for Perry:
The attacks on Perry’s HPV vaccine actions five years ago have now taken up roughly 15 minutes in both the MSNBC debate and the CNN debate. Perry’s message on this has been straightforward: that he made a mistake on the way he did the approach, that he’d approach it differently if he could do it over again, and that he listened to opponents and took his chiding from the legislature. He’s defensive about the fact that he did add a parental opt-out (Santorum’s assertion that all vaccines should be opt-in indicates that he has zero understanding of herd immunity), but that’s the rule for all of Texas.
But here’s the real reason this is a silly debate: the policy never went into effect. Not one girl was vaccinated under the policy. Not one shot was given. Demanding apologies from Perry for a policy that never went into effect gets tiresome after a while – particularly when Mitt Romney has never apologized for his namesake health care reforms, in effect in Massachusetts still today.
Now, you can still say that Perry shouldn't have done it, but the attacks diminish when, in fact, no one was affected by a policy then undone — compare that to Romneycare.
More so, Michele Bachmann today has crossed a line she should not have crossed in expanding the attack — going anti-vaccine. The "morning after pill" comparison last night has people riled up too. I missed that comment last night.
Bachmann claims the vaccine causes mental retardation, which is not only factually not true, but also puts her into a fringe category of anti-vaccine crusaders convinced of links to autism and other ills that again and again again major studies show are baseless.
In other words, in twelve hours, Michele Bachmann went from a serious win on an issue to, as of 11:23 a.m. this morning, crossing a line that loses her real credibility.