Were I Rudy, I’d keep my distance

If I were Rudy, and I’m not, but if I were, I would not be in such a hurry to promote Governor Rick Perry’s endorsement.

Rudy already has a reputation as something of an autocrat that does not really put him in good with Republicans of the more libertarian leaning. Then there are the social conservatives that aren’t enamored with Rudy because of his position on life issues. Lastly, there are those who view Rudy’s judgement in people and business dealings with a great bit of skepticism.

An endorsement from Rick Perry brings him the baggage from all of those.

If you’ll remember back to February, in a sweeping executive order without the participation of the Texas legislature, Governor Perry ordered all school age girls to get the HPV vaccine. The vaccine was controversial because, among other things, the testing protocols raised concerns about its use on girls of the age Perry intended it to be given. After the outrage, Perry was forced into signing a law passed by the Texas legislature undoing his executive order.

Of course, by that time, everything had hit the fan.

Chief of staff Deirdre Delisi’s calendar shows that she met Oct. 16 with the governor’s budget director and three members of his office for an “HPV Vaccine for Children Briefing.”

That day, New Jersey-based Merck & Co.’s political action committee donated $5,000 to Perry and $5,000 total to eight state lawmakers.

The calendar and other documents obtained by the wire service show that Perry’s office began meeting with Merck lobbyists about the vaccine as early as mid-August, months before social conservatives, who are now those most outraged by the order, helped re-elect him in November.

That wasn’t the only thing uncovered.

Critics had previously questioned Perry’s ties to the company. Mike Toomey, Perry’s former chief of staff and Delisi’s predecessor, lobbies for the drug company. The governor accepted a total of $6,000 from Merck during his re-election campaign, including $1,000 in December 2005.

According to Delisi’s calendar, she met with Toomey three times in the sixth months before the order was issued.

Were I Rudy, sure, I’d be fine with the governor of the second largest state in the union endorsing me, but I would keep my distance and certainly wouldn’t trumpet his endorsement to evangelicals — Governor Perry burned that bridge down himself.

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Erick Erickson

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