Michele Bachmann appeared as a guest on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno Friday, and the talk show host used the opportunity to press the Republican presidential candidate about her controversial remarks about the HPV vaccine and her views on homosexuality.
At the GOP debate last Monday, sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express, Bachmann criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry for signing an executive order requiring middle-school girls in his state to get vaccinated against the human papillomavirus.
"Is that bad? It's a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer," Leno asked Bachmann Friday night.
"Well I think so," Bachmann replied. "The concern is that there are potentially side effects that can come with something like that. But it gives a false sense of assurance to a young woman when she has that, that if she's sexually active that she doesn't have to worry about sexually transmitted diseases."
"I'm not sure it's a sense of assurance. It can prevent cervical cancer, correct?" Leno interjected.
"It's something that could potentially have dangerous side effects," Bachmann repeated.
Leno also pressed Bachmann about the story she has told about meeting an unidentified woman following the debate who said her daughter suffered "mental retardation" as a result of the HPV vaccine.
"Do you regret not getting this woman's name and address?" Leno asked Bachmann.
"I don't know who this person was," Bachmann replied, refusing to budge from the talking points she has repeated this week. "I wasn't speaking as a doctor, I wasn't speaking as a scientist, I was just relating what this woman said."
Leno also pressed Bachmann about her views on homosexuality and gay marriage.
"That whole 'pray the gay away' thing, I don't get it," said Leno, referring to the Christian counseling clinic she owns with her husband.
Bachmann tried to deflect Leno's question with a joke, pointing to her hair and saying, “When I heard that I really thought it was like kind of a mid-life crisis line, like, 'Pray away the gray.'"
The joke fell flat.
"It sounds like, if two gay people want to get married, that's their business, that doesn't concern us,” Leno continued. "Why is that even an issue?"
"I know gay families that are married, they have children. And they're wonderful people. It doesn't seem like they shouldn't be allowed to be happy. But I'm not going to change your mind on that one.”
When Leno asked who Bachmann would like to have as her running mate, she tried to lighten the tone. “You’re taken. You don’t want a cut in pay,” she teased Leno.
“Well, we’d probably have an argument over the gay thing,” he replied.
Leno did get in one good one-liner, though, while discussing the Tea Party's uncompromising position on raising the nation's debt ceiling.
“If you become president -- and you seem pretty strident in your views," Leno said.
“Convicted. I’m convicted,” Bachmann interjected.
“Convicted?” Leno replied. “No, you don’t get convicted until after you’re in office. That’s later. You have to get elected first."