Texas Gov. Rick Perry enjoyed one month as the heartthrob of the Republican Party.  He announced his presidential bid on August 13, overshadowing Rep. Michele Bachmann’s narrow victory over Rep. Ron Paul in the Ames Straw Poll.  By September 15, a Bloomberg National Poll showed him leading former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Eastern establishment candidate, 26 to 22 percent among GOP primary voters.

Then on September 24, he lost the Florida straw poll, 37 to 15 percent, to Herman Cain, the former Godfather’s Pizza magnate and chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.  On October 8, he was wiped out in the Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C.  Garnering just 8 percent, he finished far behind Paul at 37 percent, Cain at 23 percent, and even former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum at 16 percent.

Granted, these straw polls and other national polls mainly show the intensity of support and a candidate’s organizational ability.  The choosing of actual delegates doesn’t begin until the Iowa caucuses on February 6 (which could be moved to January 3).

What happened?  Seemingly, Perry did everything right.  He presided over the state that created 40 percent of the new jobs in America in recent years (although almost all the new jobs went to immigrants, legal and illegal).  He kept taxes low, with no state income tax.  He’s pro-life.  He favors federal tax and budget cuts, and Social Security reform.

At the September 7 Republican debate at the Reagan Library, the audience cheered when he was asked about executing 234 criminals during his decade as governor.  He backed the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that bankrupted America but continue to be popular among the Religious Right, although not so much among Tea Party activists.  He’s Hollywood handsome and, along with Paul, the only military veteran among the top-tier candidates.

Two things happened.  One was his halting performance at the debates.  These debates aren’t real debates, as in Lincoln-Douglas.  They don’t delve into real issues.  They’re for entertainment.  But they do show whether a candidate can speak glibly, and especially if he can deliver one-liners.  The masters have been John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.  The latter two even earned nicknames for their fluid speech.

Perry’s second problem was that voters got to know him.  They found out that in 2001, Perry signed into law Texas’ version of the so-called Dream Act, a nightmare for citizens.  It allowed illegal aliens who attended Texas high schools for three years to pay in-state tuition to state colleges and universities.  Citizen-students from Nebraska or Illinois still have to pay much higher out-of-state tuition.

He backed the Trans-Texas Corridor, which the state legislature finally killed in 2011.  It was a massive public-private boondoggle that would have cost up to $183 billion, most of it supposedly from private funds, and involved eminent-domain seizures of 584,000 acres of land.  The TTC would have built 4,000 miles of roads, railroads, and utilities to inject U.S. taxpayer-subsidized Mexican imports, including illegal immigrants, through Texas and into the American heartland.

Republicans also discovered that he started out as an enthusiastic Democrat who was the Texas chairman of Al Gore’s 1988 presidential bid.  Today, Perry says ObamaCare is unconstitutional.  But in 1993, as Texas agricultural commissioner, he sent a letter to Mrs. Clinton praising her healthcare proposal: “I think your efforts in trying to reform the nation’s health care system are most commendable.”  ObamaCare is just HillaryCare with a piece of the action going to Big Pharma, Big Hospital, and Big Insurance to garner their support.

The HillaryCare brouhaha negated Perry’s criticism of Romney for imposing on Massachusetts RomneyCare, a model of ObamaCare, as the President is delighted to point out.  In particular, all these systems—HillaryCare, RomneyCare, and Obama­Care—mandate participation, something anathema to most Republicans.  If you’re young and healthy and want to wing it—or buy only a cheap catastrophic policy—you still have to join to make sure you pay insurance premiums for some obese 56-year-old’s hip replacement.

But the biggest strike against Perry was the controversy over Gardasil, earning him the epithet “Gardasil Rick.”  Gardasil prevents infection by the Human Papilloma Virus, which can cause cervical cancer.  Ron Paul, an obstetrician, first reminded voters of Perry’s Gardasil connection.  But for some reason it became a national issue only when Bachmann, her own campaign vanishing into the mist, used the September 12 debate in Tampa to blaze away at Perry on Gardasil.  Her attack quickly “went viral.”

In 2007, Perry issued an executive order mandating that Gardasil be given to girls as young as those in the sixth grade—11-year-olds.  Later that year, the Texas legislature passed legislation by veto-proof margins rescinding Perry’s action.

Perry long defended his order.  At the September 22 debate in Orlando, Florida, he said, “I readily admitted we should have had an opt-in [for the mandate], but I don’t know what part of opt-out most parents don’t get.  The fact is I was on the side of life and I will always be on the side of life as a governor and as president of the United States.”

He was also on the side of Gardasil manufacturer Merck, which injected $6,000 into his gubernatorial campaign coffers.  And it didn’t hurt that former Chief of Staff Mike Toomey became a Merck lobbyist.  The whole controversy made Perry look like another GOP corporate robot—Romney with a tongue-tied Texas twang.

People put up with a lot, but when it comes to their kids, they get mad.  Moms and dads rightly recognized that Perry’s edict was usurping their parental authority.  And they saw that, aside from the medical aspect, the injections gave their girls a green light to be as promiscuous as Hollywood starlets.

Not surprisingly, America’s Eastern establishment defended Perry.  The New York Times scolded, “Mr. Perry made the right call to protect the health of vulnerable youngsters.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend the vaccine for young girls and attest to its safety based on 35 million doses administered with few serious side effects.”

The Times made Gardasil sound as healthy as popping vitamin C.  Yet the drug’s own website, Gardasil.com, warns, “The side effects include pain, swelling, itching, bruising, and redness at the injection site, headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and fainting.  Fainting can happen after getting GARDASIL.  Sometimes people who faint can fall and hurt themselves.  For this reason, your health care professional may ask you to sit or lie down for 15 minutes after you get GARDASIL.  Some people who faint might shake or become stiff.  This may require evaluation or treatment by your health care professional.”

Judicial Watch filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the FDA covering studies of Gardasil and reported, “The adverse reactions include 16 new deaths (including four suicides) between May 2009 and September 2010.  The FDA also produced 789 ‘serious’ reports, with 213 cases resulting in permanent disability and 25 resulting in a diagnosis of Guillain Barre Syndrome.”

In case No. V356938, a 19-year-old girl was given Gardasil.  After 53 days, in the words of the FDA report, the result was “Headache, Nausea [sic], dizziness, chilling, tiredness, shortness of breath, complained of chest plain [sic], severe cramps.”  She suffered an acute cardiac arrhythmia and died.

At the Value Voters Summit, Robert Jeffress, the lead pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas, tried to rekindle his friend’s campaign.  Jeffress introduced Perry as “a committed follower of Christ,” then afterward told reporters Romney belonged to the Mormon “cult” and was “not a Christian.”  Romney ripped the remark as “poisonous language.”  Perry later said he didn’t believe Mormonism was a “cult.”  And former Drug Czar Bill Bennett, perhaps angling for another government job to make up for his million-dollar gambling losses, attacked Jeffress’ “bigotry.”

Unless Ron Paul advances and wins an early primary or caucus, the choice for Republicans looks to be between Romney, who imposed mandatory healthcare for everyone, and Perry, who imposed mandatory Gardasil shots for 11-year-olds.  Somewhere in a White House closet, President Obama is sneaking a smoke, and giggling.