KTRK Story Discredits Rick Perry’s Debate Anecdote About Woman Suffering from Cervical Cancer

By Andrew Gauthier 

Under pressure from GOP rivals at Thursday night’s debate over his support of an HPV vaccine, Texas Governor Rick Perry spoke of his relationship with a woman suffering from cervical cancer–a relationship that was brought to light last week by Houston’s KTRK.

“I got lobbied on this issue.  I got lobbied by a 31-year-old young lady who had stage 4 cervical cancer,” Perry said at Thursday’s Republican debate.  “I spent a lot of time with her.  She came by my office.  She talked to me about this program.”


The young lady Perry referred to on Thursday is the late Heather Burcham, who worked for KTRK for a time. KTRK’s Ted Oberg reported on Perry’s relationship with Burcham last week and spoke to friends of her’s, who fondly remembered the quiet moments that she spent with the governor before here death in 2007.

While Oberg’s story paints a sympathetic portrait of the governor, it also calls into question the claims Perry made at Thursday’s debate.

What Perry conveniently left out on Thursday, and what Oberg points out in his story, is that the governor’s relationship with Burcham occurred after he signed his executive order mandating the HPV vaccine (video below).

Here’s Oberg:

After Governor Perry got in Texas trouble for signing an executive order in 2007 mandating the HPV vaccine, Heather tried to convince lawmakers to let it stand, and in the process met Governor Perry. But more than a meeting, it sparked a friendship.

Long after the order was rescinded and Perry lost the political fight, they kept talking.

[KTRK, The Note]