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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Governor Rick Perry officially started his campaign for President on Saturday, and voters are already asking tough questions about his political record. As a result, Perry admitted that he made a mistake involving a controversial decision, and it could become fuel for his critics during the campaign.
Perry was in Iowa touting his conservative record as a job creator and tax cutter. But on a radio talk show in Des Moines, one caller put Perry on the defensive after challenging him about a past executive order requiring girls to have the Gardasil vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer.
“You mandated that vaccine three days after Merck pharmaceuticals, which invented the vaccine, gave you a large campaign contribution,” the caller said.
“My effort is to kill cancer,” Perry responded. “That particular issue was one that I readily stand up and say I made a mistake on.”
The Texas Legislature ultimately undid Perry’s vaccine mandate.
“It was wrong. He knows it was wrong,” said Tea Party member Katrina Pierson. “So, the best thing to do is admit it and move on.” But while the Garland resident credits Perry for admitting his mistake, she said that the Governor is not conservative enough for her own tastes. “I would say he’s better than some, but definitely wouldn’t call him a conservative to the political standards that conservatism is today.”
Pierson and other critics have said that they are troubled by Perry’s failed proposal to use eminent domain to build the Trans-Texas Corridor toll road. Critics have also said stated that Perry has not done enough to fight illegal immigration.
However, Dallas County Republican Party chairman Wade Emmert insists that Perry has a strong conservative record. “Perry has a very solid pro-life record,” Emmert said. “He’s got a very solid business record. Very aggressive tort reform in Texas.”
Emmert believes that Perry is now the front-runner in the Republican race, but he will not endorse the Governor – or any other candidate — until the party has selected a nominee.