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Bachmann Tones Down Words on HPV Dangers

Rush Limbaugh says she's 'jumping the shark' with retardation anecdote
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2011 5:49 PM CDT

(Newser) – Michele Bachmann looks to be pulling back from controversial comments she made about the HPV vaccine after drawing flak from the medical community and others—including Rush Limbaugh, notes Minnesota Public Radio. Bachmann scored points in last night's debate by criticizing Rick Perry's decision to try to mandate the vaccine in girls, calling it an example of misguided big government. In two subsequent TV interviews, she tried to press her advantage, relaying a story about how a mother "told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter." The vaccine "can have very dangerous side effects," she said.

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That prompted a slew of criticism from medical experts today who said there's no basis for such a claim, notes the Daily News and USA Today. Limbaugh also accused her of "jumping the shark" with the retardation anecdote. On Sean Hannity's radio show today, Bachmann toned things down. Asked whether the vaccine causes retardation, she responded, "I have no idea. I am not a doctor. I am not a scientist. I am not a physician. All I was doing was reporting what a woman told me last night at the debate." (Read more Michele Bachmann 2012 stories.)

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