Richmond, Virginia (CNN) – Texas Governor Rick Perry took issue Wednesday with Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's recent comments linking the HPV vaccine to mental retardation.
The issue flared up at Monday's "CNN-Republican Tea Party Debate" when Bachmann slammed Perry's decision in 2007 to require vaccinations for Texas school girls against the sexually transmitted HPV virus which may cause cervical cancer.
Then on Tuesday, Bachmann told NBC News she had heard from a woman who said her daughter "took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter."
Health experts immediately rejected the claim the vaccine causes mental health problems.
After a speech in Richmond, Virginia Wednesday, Perry told reporters Bachmann's comments had "no basis in fact."
"I think that was a statement that has no truth and no basis in fact and I hate cancer and that is what this has always been about for me," Perry said.
The Texas Governor went on to talk about how his parents both survived bouts with cancer. He said his meeting with a young woman who died from cervical cancer had an influenced his decision.
"I sat by the bed of a young lady as she was dying from cervical cancer. It had an impact on me. I care about life," Perry said.
The Bachmann campaign stood by its criticism of Perry in a statement to CNN.
"Governor Perry abused his power of the executive order to in imposing mandatory vaccines on 12 year old girls and engaged in crony capitalism with donors in sealing the deal – that's the truth," Bachmann campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart said in a statement.
The statement did not address the validity of Bachmann's comments on the vaccine's safety.
The American Association of Pediatrics has sharply criticized Bachmann's comments in a statement.
"There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement," the association said.