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Rick Perry's HPV vaccine problem

Rick Perry is in a political bind over ordering girls to receive injections to protect against a sexually transmitted disease. The controversy is of special interest to tea party and social conservatives.

Jerry Falwell Jr., left, and Republican presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry converse before the start of convocation at the Vines Center on the campus of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

Jill Nance/News & Daily Advance/AP

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry finds himself in a political bind over his effort to make middle-school girls receive injections to protect against a sexually transmitted disease.

As a result, the feisty GOP presidential front-runner not known for backing down from controversial positions (think Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme”) has acknowledged that he made a mistake in issuing the unilateral order rather than working through the Texas Legislature.

“If I had it to do over again, I would have done it differently,” Governor Perry said during Monday night’s GOP candidates’ debate co-hosted by CNN and the Tea Party Express.

Perry’s political dilemma is obvious: He’s the only governor to have issued an executive order mandating the vaccine for girls. Virginia is the only other state with the requirement, and there’s a legislative effort there to repeal it.

The controversy is of special interest to tea-party and social conservatives. It touches on government mandates, parental rights, the suggestion that young girls may be sexually active, and the influence of special interests on politicians and the issues they push.

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