Presidential candidate Rick Perry had to feel as if he was gang-tackled by his GOP competition during and after the national debate. Appearing on Fox News’ “On The Record with Greta van Susteren” following the CNN/Tea Party Express Republican Debate in Tampa, Fla., former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, herself a possible future presidential contender, jumped into the political fray, adding more weight to pile-on. She bolstered the attack made by Rep. Michele Bachmann on Perry’s 2007 executive order for all high-school-aged females in Texas be vaccinated for Human papillomavirus (HPV).
Palin also warned that going after the “big guns” like Bachmann chose to do would bring recriminations. “And they will try to destroy you,” she said, “when you call them out on the mistakes that they have made.”
Bachmann called out the Texas governor for signing the law that made it mandatory for girls to be vaccinated against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that is a known cause for cervical cancer. Parents could opt out for religious reasons, but the law became controversial due to its sensitive nature and its seeming interference with privacy rights. But she made the shot a one-two punch: “I just wanted to add that we cannot forget that in the midst of this executive order there is a big drug company that made millions of dollars because of this mandate. We can’t deny that.”
Perry admitted he had received a $5,000 contribution from Merck, the manufacturer of the vaccine. “I raised about $30 million. And if you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended.”
Bachmann didn’t just let the set-up go: “Well, I’m offended for all the little girls and the parents that didn’t have a choice.”
She could have asked how much not being offended would have cost Merck.
Although Bachmann did not come right out and say Perry was a purveyor of crony capitalism, Palin did. “True reform and fighting the corruption and fighting the crony capitalism is a tough thing to do within your own party,” Palin said. “Believe me I know that. I have the bumps and bruises to prove it,” she added, going on to explain how she fought corruption in Alaska for the past 20 years.
CNN noted this wasn’t the first time the former Alaska governor has talked of Perry’s cronyism. Although she did not speak his name aloud, Palin told an audience at the Iowa State Fair in August that some candidates were big fundraisers. “We need ask them, too: What, if anything, do their donors expect from their investments? We need to know this because our country can’t afford more trillion-dollar thank you notes to campaign backers.”
Palin was not the only political voice that joined Bachmann in hitting the GOP presidential frontrunner. Several of the candidates tossed Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment (“Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican”) and went after him as well.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney resurrected the Social Security fight that had been enjoined at the previous MSNBC/Politico debate. After Perry attempted to dismiss his labeling Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” as just the latest in a long line of such labelers, Romney asked, “Do you still believe that Social Security should be ended as a federal program?”
“I think we ought to have a conversation,” Perry dodged.
“We’re having that right now, governor,” Romney said evenly. “We’re running for president.”
Texas Congressman Ron Paul took a shot at Perry using home turf, Perry’s reputation as a jobs creator (the “Texas Miracle”), and his record on taxation as backdrop: “I’m a taxpayer there,” Paul said. “My taxes have gone up. Our taxes have doubled since he took office. Our debt has gone up nearly triple. So no — and 170,000 of the jobs were government jobs. So I would put a little damper on this, but I don’t want to offend the governor because he might raise my taxes or something.”
And even former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman tried to tie Perry down on both his controversial statement about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his (Perry’s) comment that he couldn’t secure the Mexican border. “Let me say for Rick to say that you can’t secure the border I think is pretty much a treasonous comment.”
But as for whether or not former governor Palin would soon enter the political arena officially, she told Fox News she was still undecided. She admitted, though, that she was enjoying herself, “getting a kick out of getting out there, making a speech, making some statement about things that must be discussed and then the very next day watching some of the candidates get out there and discuss what it was we just talked about.”