WASHINGTON (AP/The Huffington Post) -- Rep. Michele Bachmann is accusing Republican presidential rival Rick Perry of engaging in "crony capitalism" in ordering an STD vaccine for schoolgirls.
Bachmann says in a broadcast interview she will keep hammering away at the Texas governor over an executive order he signed making vaccinations against potentially cancer-causing infections mandatory for young girls. The state legislature overturned Perry's decision.
Bachmann tells NBC's "Today" show "it's very clear that crony capitalism could likely have been the cause" of Perry's executive order mandating the shots, saying his former chief of staff was a lobbyist for Merck, the pharmaceutical company that produced the vaccine.
Perry says he made a mistake in doing it by executive order. But he also tells his rivals he will continue to "err on the side of life."
Bachmann slammed Perry for his 2007 executive order mandating that young girls in Texas be vaccinated against HPV during the GOP debate Monday night.
"To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong. That should never be done. That's a violation of a liberty interest," she said.
"We cannot forget that in the midst of this executive order, there was a big drug company that made millions of dollars because of this mandate. We can't deny that," Bachmann continued, referring to Merck.
Bachmann's "crony capitalism" line was the same one Sarah Palin used in her speech at a Tea Party rally in Iowa earlier this month in which she criticized the "permanent political class" and "the collusion of big government and big business."
Following the debate Monday night, Palin defended Bachmann on Fox News.
"That someone as Michele Bachmann pointed out, was Governor Perry’s former chief of staff who went to work for a drug company who made the drug that would be required of the Texas government to mandate that our young daughters would have to be inoculated against potential disease from this company that his former chief of staff was lobbying for that is crony capitalism," Palin said.
"That's part of the problem we have in this country. People are afraid, even within our own party to call one another out on that. True reform and fighting the crony capitalism is a tough thing to do within your own party. You have to go up against the big guns. They will try to destroy you, when you call them out on the stakes they've made. Believe me I know. I have the bumps and bruises to prove it."