Rick Perry Defends Signing Texas Vaccination Law

AP Photo/Eric Gay
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Former Texas Gov. and potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination Rick Perry took some heat over a Texas law on vaccination this week. Perry used an interview with the New Hampshire Journal to elaborate on his thinking in that regard.

Perry offered what he described as “context” for his decision to sign the law at the time.

He said the exemption “was placed into an omnibus piece of legislation that consolidated all the health and human services agencies. I would not have vetoed that piece of legislation just to get at that very minute line or paragraph in that large piece of legislation. And I would support the Texas Legislature if it decided to tighten that language and that law.”

Perry said he “had a focus of increasing vaccinations in the State of Texas,” noting that the vaccination rate was only 65 percent in 2002 and rose to more than 95 percent in 2014. “The results were reflective of my interest.”

He also said that his wife, Anita, is a former National Chairman for the March of Dimes childhood immunization program.

Perry also faced criticism during his first run for President when he required young girls to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) in 2007. Conservatives charged it would encourage promiscuity. Perry, when he launched his presidential bid, called his prior action a mistake and said he supported the Texas Legislature’s decision to overturn it.”

Clearly, that’s not the only thing Perry wanted to talk about as he prepares to visit New Hampshire next week. He also said he’d be announcing a decision in May or June as to whether or not he plans to pursue the nomination.

He issued a reminder that Texas “led the nation in job creation” during his service as governor. “Almost one-third of all of the jobs created in the United States were created in Texas, and it’s not solely a part of the oil and gas industry. We are a very, very diversified state now.”

The former governor also pointed to what he describes as a “consistent” record with policies he believes are applicable nationally.

Perry said that national security and terrorism “are very much on people’s minds, when you see events like what occurred in Paris and the Jordanian pilot who was incinerated. That obviously draws great concern and attention of the American people.

“With that said, however, if you are out of a job and don’t have the dignity of taking care of your family — and there are millions of people in that situation – this group, who we refer to as the uncounted, is of great concern to me and people all across the country.”

Perry believes he has a model for job creation that can be applied nationally.


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