Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gov. Rick Perry's vaccine quandary familiar to Florida Republicans

At Monday’s debate in Tampa, Rick Perry said he regretted ordering vaccinations.

Associated Press

At Monday’s debate in Tampa, Rick Perry said he regretted ordering vaccinations.

Amid the discussion over jobs and Social Security, a sensitive health issue played a role in Monday's Republican presidential debate in Tampa: whether to vaccinate young girls against a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas was assailed for pushing mandatory vaccinations, a decision he reversed. He did not totally back down Monday, but said it was wrong to bypass the Legislature with an executive order.

Florida, you may recall, wrestled with the vaccines in 2007. Three Republicans pushed a proposal to make the vaccine mandatory for 11- and 12-year-olds. But the plan, pushed by drugmaker Merck, came under opposition from religious conservatives who said it was akin to promoting early sex.

"We're concerned about the age of the kids and the message we're sending," Bill Stephens, executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida, said at the time.

Skittish Republican leaders backed away, and the legislation effectively died.

"It was not a bill about sex," former state Rep. Ed Homan of Tampa, an orthopedic surgeon, told the Buzz on Tuesday. "It was about health. It was about saving lives. I'm a Republican, but I'm not stupid."

Immigration a touchy topic

The lineup of conservative speakers at a Heritage Foundation luncheon in Tampa on Monday was well received by a crowd of about 200 tea party activists — until one said something the audience didn't agree with.

The topic was illegal immigration. The speaker: Al Cardenas, a longtime member of Florida's Republican elite, former state GOP chairman, lawyer, lobbyist and current chairman of the American Conservative Union. After making obligatory comments about securing the nation's borders, Cardenas began to talk about the economic pragmatism of immigration.

He said it makes no sense for foreigners to get educated at America's best universities such as MIT and then return to their homeland nations to compete against America. "We'd rather figure out a way for you to work for Microsoft, here," Cardenas said, as the cavernous room turned silent.

Then Cardenas spoke of menial, low-paying jobs "working in chicken coops or washing dishes," and he questioned "whether enough Americans are willing to do those jobs," and the crowd turned on Cardenas, booing him and shouting "No! No!"

Speaking to reporters afterward, Cardenas said the crowd misunderstood him. "What I was saying was actually true," he said. "If you talk to people in the hospitality industry or the ag industry, they talk about all the efforts they undertake to go to our most needy communities to get workers, and they can't."


• A couple of high-profile surrogates were on hand Monday night touting their newly endorsed candidates: former presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, now backing Mitt Romney, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, backing Perry.

• Pasco GOP committeeman Bill Bunting told the Buzz he is on board with the Perry campaign. "Everybody's talking about getting something done with the economy and jobs. His track record is out there with doing it."

Scott on the road up North

Florida Gov. Rick Scott attended a Tea Party Express rally in Jacksonville on Saturday, but wasn't at the group's presidential debate in Tampa.

He went to Philadelphia for Republican Governors Association meetings and had a dinner scheduled during the debate.

We're told Scott, who said he's watched "parts" of the previous GOP debates, was also planning to spend time in New York on Tuesday, where he'll attend a fundraising dinner, and Wednesday for some media interviews.

Times staff writers Steve Bousquet, Adam C. Smith and Michael C. Bender contributed to this report.

Gov. Rick Perry's vaccine quandary familiar to Florida Republicans 09/13/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 11:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs


    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Trump announces $10 billion Foxconn plant in Wisconsin


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that electronics giant Foxconn will build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that's expected to initially create 3,000 jobs, the largest economic development project in state history.

    President Donald Trump embraces Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the East Room of the White House during an announcement Wednesday that Foxconn is going to build a plant in Wisconsin.
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with critical series at Yankees up first

    The Heater


    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Conservatives come to Sessions' defense amid Trump attacks


    WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans and influential conservatives rallied around Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday as President Donald Trump kept up his public pelting of the nation's top law enforcement officer and left his future in doubt.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  5. Jones: Alex Cobb proves again why he's Rays' stopper, no matter how long he's here (w/ video)

    The Heater


    If a team hopes to hang around the pennant race, it better have an ace. A stopper. A pitcher it can count on every fifth day to stop the bleeding, keep a winning streak going or flat-out win a game that a team flat-out needs to win.

    Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing the first inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]