Rick Perry continues his campaigning in New Hampshire today, where Mitt Romney is expected to perform strongly in the first primary of the nomination process (Iowa is a caucus, of course).  The Texas governor and new frontrunner — at least in one poll — campaigned strongly to the right, rejecting both the notion of anthropogenic global warming and the debt-ceiling compromise approved by Congress earlier this month:

Rick Perry says he does not believe in global warming. The newest Republican presidential candidate also says he would not have signed the debt-ceiling compromise brokered by Republicans and Democrats. …

The Republican also said the debt-ceiling compromise, which helped avoid a national default, sent the wrong message by spending money the nation doesn’t have.

National Journal has more of the actual quotes, in which Perry sounds more like a skeptic than an outright disbeliever:

“I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized,” Perry answered. “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. I think we’re seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change. Yes, our climates change. They’ve been changing ever since the earth was formed.”

Pegging the global cost of implementing “anti-carbon programs” in the billions or trillions of dollars, Perry said, “I don’t think from my perspective that I want America to be engaged in spending that much money on [what is] still a scientific theory that has not been proven, and from my perspective, is more and more being put into question.”

His position on AGW hardly comes as a surprise, but it does draw a big contrast with Romney.  Romney angered conservatives in June by declaring his belief in AGW, and then refusing to repudiate it a few days later.  His promise not to push any policies addressing it didn’t exactly fill the Right with confidence, either.

Romney did oppose the debt ceiling deal, but only did so rather late in the game.  Perry had insisted on the Cut Cap and Balance Act at the same time, well before announcing his presidential bid.  The contrast here relates more to leadership than policy.  However, given the dynamics of the GOP race, this looks more like a move to co-opt Michele Bachmann’s supporters and present himself as the conservative answer to the more establishment Romney.  Bachmann refused to even vote for the CCB Act because it raised the debt ceiling; Perry’s statement in New Hampshire today seems to emphasize his opposition to that raise more than his support for the CCB Act, which would have raised the ceiling, at least as the AP reports the remarks.

If so, it’s a smart move within the politics of the race.  On policy, though, that leaves Perry in a similar position to Bachmann on Sunday, when Jake Tapper asked her to identify the spending she’d have to cut to stop borrowing money in the short term.  It’s a tough question, because there isn’t enough discretionary spending to cut to meet that target.  That’s why the “10-to-1 cuts to revenue” question in the debate is really a non-sequitur.  If the deficit problem was in discretionary spending, a 10-1 package would be a great deal.  The problem is in entitlements, though, which neither tax hikes nor discretionary spending cuts will solve.  The right answer to that question is that we need entitlement reform first, then tax reform, instead of gimmicky deals that don’t address the problem.

Michelle Malkin has problems with another answer Perry gave this week on the Gardasil issue:

I’m far less aggravated by Gov. Perry’s injudicious toss-off remarks than I am by his profoundly troubling, liberty-curtailing actions in office and his fresh batch of specious rationalizations for them. My syndicated column today dissects Perry’s recent, so-called “walk backs” of his odious Gardasil vaccine mandate for children. I’ve written and reported on vaccine bullies in the schools and on informed parental authority over vaccines previously. But as you’ll see from my column below, Perry defenders who dismiss critics as “single-issue” activists are willfully blind to the Gardasil disgrace’s multiple layers of rottenness. Related must-reads on Perry and Gardasil: Tom BevanRhymes with Right, and BA Cyclone at RedState. (See also this flashback on Hillary, Merck money, and Gardasil.)

While Perry and his campaign staff have now paid lip service to making a “mistake” in shoving the executive order down families’ throats, they remain defiant in defending the decree and Perry’s zealous, big government overreaching. From the latest story on Perry’s “reversal” in the Washington Post“Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner dismissed the criticism. Governor Perry has always stood on the side of protecting life, and that is what this issue was about…”

Oh, no it wasn’t. Please read this, get informed, pass it on, and make sure that you don’t fall for a purported cure to our political ills that’s worse than the power-grabbing disease in the current White House.

As for the ridiculous idea that scrutinizing Perry’s much-bragged-out gubernatorial record is tantamount to “smearing” him, toughen up, buttercups. This is just the beginning of 2012 campaign heat. Limited government activists already know Perry’s ready, willing, and able to dish it out against them. If Perry can’t take it from supposed allies and friends on his own side of the aisle, why should he be trusted as the GOP contender against our Democratic enemies?

The Gardasil issue is absolutely fair game, although it cuts a number of ways.  I’m mostly concerned with Perry’s reach to an executive order to install the mandate, which is primarily what he walked back this week.  If he wanted to impose a mandate, he should have proposed it to the friendly legislature he had at the time, and made clear what the pressing public-health issues were that needed such intervention, and why parental choice couldn’t be trusted. Given the limited nature of the transmission path, the need for an executive-order mandate is certainly at least questionable.  There were other ways to address this, including subsidized voluntary vaccinations, that Perry apparently didn’t attempt at all.

Michelle took some heat on Twitter for her tough criticism, but it’s hardly out of bounds.  This is also one incident in an eleven year record, which is important but hardly the only consideration in play, either.  Even if one thinks that Perry made a big mistake — and that’s debatable — it’s also not a disqualification, either, especially when the other alternatives thus far is the governor who imposed a state-wide health-insurance mandate, and House members who never got asked to make tough executive decisions at all.  It’s not nothing, but it’s also not everything, and perhaps that kind of perspective should be kept in mind.

Update: Michelle passes along this article from 2007 in which the chair of the CDC’s immunization panel advised against making Gardasil a mandatory vaccine regimen for students:

The chairman of the federal panel that recommended the new cervical-cancer vaccine for pre-teen girls says lawmakers should not make the inoculation mandatory, as the District and more than 20 states, including Virginia, are considering.

Dr. Jon Abramson, chairman of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee on immunization practices (ACIP), also said he and panel members told Merck & Co., the drug Gardasil’s maker, not to lobby state lawmakers to require the vaccine for school attendance.

“I told Merck my personal opinion that it shouldn’t be mandated,” Dr. Abramson told The Washington Times. “And they heard it from other committee members.”

Dr. Abramson said he opposes mandating Gardasil, which prevents the cervical-cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV), because the sexually transmitted HPV is not a contagious disease like measles and he is not sure states can afford to inoculate all students.

“The vaccines out there now are for very communicable diseases. A child in school is not at an increased risk for HPV like he is measles,” Dr. Abramson said.

So far, not one state has mandated the Gardasil vaccination.  Parents can choose to have their daughters vaccinated with or without the mandate, at their own expense, but it’s the most expensive vaccination regimen at $360 for the entire series.