A handful of events unfolded in early September to derail Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign, but one key element was her attacks against giving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to girls. The right-wing lawmaker claimed that the HPV vaccine can lead to mental retardation — a claim with no foundation in reality — and kept repeating the claim.

Soon after, Bachmann’s penchant for saying ridiculous things in public became a major topic of discussion, and her anti-vaccine comments come under fire from, among others, Rush Limbaugh, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, Bachmann’s former campaign manager, and the American Association of Pediatrics. Jim Dyke, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee, said at the time, “This is the nail in the coffin in her campaign.”

Two months later, Bachmann has learned nothing. Reader T.D. passes along this item out of Iowa, where Bachmann heard from a voter who claims the HPV vaccine gave her daughter health problems.

“Well, I thank you for bringing it up,” Bachmann said. “Parents have to make that decision for their kids because it isn’t the schools that are going to follow up with Jessica. It isn’t the schools that live with Jessica every day. It’s Jessica who’s having to have her body live with the ravages of this vaccine.”

Bachmann then decried Perry’s former chief of staff, Mike Toomey, who lobbied for Merck, the company that produces Gardasil, and gave $16,000 to Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns.

“And that’s a very big issue, and we can’t sacrifice the health of even one child on the altar (for) profits for some big drug company,” Bachmann said.

It’s scary to think of the real-world, public health consequences of families who hear Bachmann’s rhetoric, and fail to realize how unhinged she is.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.