- (Reuters/Scott Audette)
A daring Michele Bachmann appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and faced grilling questions on the HPV vaccine, gay marriage and homosexuality.
As the liberal host of the late night talk show thanked the GOP presidential hopeful for being a “good sport,” he said, “We’ve done a million jokes. Hopefully, you haven’t been watching any of them.”
However, soon thereafter Leno appeared unusually serious as he threw questions at Minnesota Congresswoman Bachmann.
Leno’s first question Friday evening concerned Bachmann’s attacks on Texas Gov. Rick Perry for supporting the HPV vaccine. “Is that bad? It’s a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer,” asked Leno.
“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.”
Perry signed an executive order in 2007 requiring Texas middle-school girls to get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted HPV. The order wasn’t implemented though.
“I’m not sure it’s a sense of assurance. It can prevent cervical cancer, correct?” Leno interrupted.
“It’s something that could potentially have dangerous side effects,” Bachmann replied.
Referring to Bachmann’s meeting with an unidentified woman after last week’s GOP debate in Florida who said her daughter suffered “mental retardation” as a result of the HPV vaccine, Leno asked, “Do you regret not getting this woman’s name and address?”
“I don’t know who this person was,” Bachmann replied. “I wasn’t speaking as a doctor, I wasn’t speaking as a scientist, I was just relating what this woman said.”
Questions on homosexuality and gay marriage followed. “That whole ‘pray the gay away’ thing, I don’t get it,” Leno said, referring to her family’s Christian counseling clinic.
Bachmann jokingly pointed to her hair and said, “When I heard that I really thought it was like kind of a mid-life crisis line, like, ‘Pray away the gray.’” But Leno wasn’t in a mood to joke, it seemed.
Bachmann defended the clinic saying it did not discriminate. But she didn’t hesitate to repeat her position that marriage is between a man and a woman.
“It sounds like, if two gay people want to get married, that’s their business, that doesn’t concern us,” Leno responded. “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.”
Leno also asked about Bachmann’s opposition to raising the debt ceiling. Bachmann said it wasn’t an attack on President Barack Obama, and that she would have taken the same stand even if it was George W. Bush.
Pressed on her slipping down in the polls after Perry’s entrance in the race, Bachmann acknowledged it “changes the dynamic.” “But we’re in for the marathon. We’re not in for the sprint,” she added.
Leno then asked her who her running mate would be if she won the Republican nomination. “You’re taken. You don’t want a cut in pay,” Bachmann replied, teasing him. Leno replied, “Well, we’d probably have an argument over the gay thing.”