The Republican Party’s presidential candidates have met for debates 5 times so far in 2011, and twice this Sept.
The most recent debate was held on Sept. 12 in Tampa, FL and included all eight candidates: Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich.
Candidates were asked questions submitted by Tea Party activists and viewers through social media sites and given one minute to answer. Thirty seconds were allowed for rebuttals and follow-up answers. CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer moderated questions that addressed issues such as Social Security, the economy, and health care.
Bachmann and Perry, two of the most sensational candidates thus far, inevitably butted heads at the forefront of the debate. Much controversy was created by Texas Governor Rick Perry, whose HPV vaccine policy was repeatedly criticized by other candidates as intrusive and inconsiderate of the preferences of parents and legal guardians.
Perry’s 2007 executive order in Texas mandates that girls must receive the Gardasil vaccine before sixth grade to prevent and fight the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) in order to decrease the risk for cervical cancer. This law allegedly targets preteen girls and denies parents the option to refuse the vaccine for their daughters. Similar laws exist in Virginia and Washington DC.
Many Americans, especially conservatives opposed to Obama-care, are sensitive about government-mandated health care. Bachmann was expressively opinionated on Perry’s law.
“Whether it’s Obamacare or Perrycare, I oppose any governor or president who mandates a family’s health care choices,” Bachmann, an anti-abortion candidate, said in a statement released on Sept. 16.
Perry stated that he should have changed the law and given a parental opt-out in the law, but defended his actions by emphasizing his concern for the health of young women.
“Cervical cancer is a horrible way to die,” Perry said, “This was about trying to stop a cancer…I am always going to err on the side of life.”
The vaccine in question, Gardasil, is produced by Merck, a company that contributed $5,000 to Perry’s campaign. Gardasil has a history of negative side effects.
“Negative side effects of Gardasil…are being reported in the District of Columbia and 20 states, including Virginia. The reactions range from loss of consciousness to seizures,” Gregory Lopes wrote in The Washington Times in 2007.
Five more debates are scheduled for 2011.