Bachmann Slams Perry For HPV Vaccination Directive

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Republican Michele Bachmann is feeling the sting of presidential campaign jab gone awry.

In a GOP debate this week, the Minnesota congresswoman criticized front-runner Rick Perry over a controversial vaccination directive he signed as Texas governor. The executive order upset social conservatives and drew accusations of cronyism because the drug's maker donated to Perry's campaign.

Bachmann went further after the debate and linked the human papillomavirus vaccine to mental retardation. The claim was roundly disputed by medical experts, who called it irresponsible and dangerous. Political observers say it muddied Bachmann's shot at Perry.

Bachmann is trying to regain her footing in the race after a late-summer slide. She hopes to raise doubts about Perry among conservatives and libertarian-style tea party members critical to both candidates.