Although Mitt Romney has long held the reputation of being the designated “flip-flopper” of the Republican presidential field, Rick Perry hasn't wasted any time catching up to Romney in the two days since he threw his hat into the ring. In 2007, Perry issued an executive order mandating that every girl entering the sixth grade in Texas be vaccinated with Gardasil, a vaccine that helps prevent women from being infected with the two common strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV causes about 70 percent of cases of cervical cancer, as well as various penile, anal and head and neck cancers associated with sexual activity.
Back in 2007, Perry came under immediate attack from social conservatives who
argued that by mandating vaccinations, Perry was encouraging premarital sex and promiscuity among young girls. At the time, Perry defended his decision, stating that by fighting cancer, he was protecting life. Now that he’s running for president and trying to gain the support of social conservatives nationally, Perry has changed his tack for the first time. Perry walked back his support of mandatory vaccinations as a mistake in order to gain the support of those who think that the vaccination promotes promiscuity and the further decline of traditional morality.
Perry has made a range of other statements that will be controversial among the GOP primary electorate, ranging from hinting that Texas could secede from the Union to arguing that states have the right to permit same-sex marriage. Although this may be Perry’s first apology of the campaign, with a varied record of controversial remarks, as well as a 26-year record in elected office to defend (the first five of which were as a Democrat), it likely won’t be his last.