SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — The scrap between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney may have gotten more attention in Wednesday’s presidential candidates debate, but it was tame compared to the dust-up between Mr. Perry and Rep. Ron Paul, two Texans who apparently have spent plenty of time digging up dirt on each other and aren’t afraid to use it.
At one point when the video cameras weren’t rolling — though the incident was caught by still photographers — Mr. Perry walked over Mr. Paul’s lectern, took hold of the congressman’s wrist and wagged his finger at him.
A spokesman for Mr. Perry said Thursday it was a policy conversation, not a heated exchange.
“The governor and the congressman talked about border security. It was a cordial conversation,” said Mark Miner.
The first shot was invited by the debate moderators, who asked Mr. Paul to expand on his accusations, made in recent days, that Mr. Perry, who has spent more than a decade as governor of Texas, is less conservative than voters think.
“Just take the HPV,” Mr. Paul said, referring to Mr. Perry’s scrapped plan to require schoolgirls in the state to be given a vaccine against the sexually transmitted virus. “Forcing 12-year-old girls to take an inoculation to prevent this sexually transmitted disease, this is not good medicine, I do not believe. I think it’s social misfit.”
Mr. Perry acknowledged he’d gone about the plan the wrong way when he tried to bypass the legislature, but said he’d been trying to combat cervical cancer, which can result from HPV, and said his plan would have allowed parents to opt out of the inoculation program.