Michele Bachmann is starting to get some real blowback over her missteps around the HPV attack on Rick Perry. The New York Times reports:
In the pugilism of this week’s Republican presidential debate, Representative Michele Bachmann seemed to have landed a clean blow against Gov. Rick Perry over an order he issued requiring Texas schoolgirls to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus.
But then in follow-up interviews, Mrs. Bachmann suggested the vaccine was linked to “mental retardation.”
As experts quickly pointed out, there is no evidence whatsoever linking the vaccine to mental retardation — and Mrs. Bachmann ended up shifting the focus off Mr. Perry and on to her long-running penchant for exaggeration.
It is a pattern her current and former aides know well — her tendency to let her passion for an issue overwhelm a sober look at the facts, resulting in indefensible remarks that, in a presidential primary race, are raising questions about her judgment and maturity.
It’s important to distinguish how a candidate plays with non-Republican primary voters and how they play with Republican primary voters. Clearly the DC media is swarming over Bachmann’s mistakes and the HPV screw-up certainly doesn’t make liberals like myself want her to do well. But her attacks in the debate were strong, direct, and put Rick Perry on the defensive. He looked off-balance and unable to adequately explain himself, beyond making clear that it costs more than $5,000 to buy him off. As a result, I have to wait and see how this affects her support among actual Republican primary voters to see how much it hurts her.
…Adding, obviously this stuff hurts Bachmann in the general election, but I think we are miles away from having to consider Bachmann in the context of general election outcomes.