Rick Perry on defense over family hunting camp’s racist name

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

Presidential candidate Rick Perry hit back this weekend against fallout from a Sunday Washington Post story regarding a hunting camp leased by the Texas governor and his father. The camp had formerly been known by the racially inflammatory name of "Niggerhead."

The Post reported that the Perry family had painted over the slab of rock bearing the slur. But Perry's own description of when that happened differs from the accounts of seven people interviewed by the Post. Those sources all said the offensive name was visible during the time Perry was associated with the camp.

Opponent Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, said Sunday that the incident shows Perry's lack of racial sensitivity.

"Since Governor Perry has been going there for years to hunt, I think that it shows a lack of sensitivity for a long time of not taking that word off of that rock and renaming the place," Cain told ABC "This Week" Sunday. "It's just basically a case of insensitivity."

Watch Cain's interview with ABC below:

Cain expressed similar sentiment on "Fox News Sunday," saying: "There isn't a more vile, negative word than the 'N word' and for him to leave it there as long as he did, before I hear that they finally painted over it, it's just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country."

Perry's campaign responded directly to Cain's characterization made on Fox Sunday. Perry's campaign officials said that the governor's own administration has compiled a strong record on issues of inclusiveness and diversity--and that Perry's family did obscure the offensive word soon after leasing the property.

"Mr. Cain is wrong about the Perry family's quick action to eliminate the word on the rock, but is right the word written by others long ago is insensitive and offensive. That is why the Perrys took quick action to cover and obscure it," spokesman Ray Sullivan said in a statement Sunday.

Perry told the Post his father "soon painted over" the word after joining the lease in 1983 and that the rock was also turned over. But those interviewed by the Post claim the name was still visible at other points during the 1980s and 1990s, and one former worker said he believes he saw it as recently as three years ago.

Cain, who is black, has long defended the tea party--which has claimed him as a prominent spokesman-- against attacks of racism. Cain already confirmed last week that he would not endorse Perry if the governor won the Republican nomination for president because he regards Perry as soft on immigration.

Cain reconfirmed his opposition to Perry Sunday, saying: "I couldn't support him vigorously if he were the nominee."

Update 4:40 p.m. ET: Cain told reporters outside Trump Tower in Manhattan Monday that he didn't intend for his comments to be cast as a personal attack on Perry. "All I said was the mere fact that that word was there was 'insensitive.' That's not playing the race card. I am not attacking Governor Perry. Some people in the media want to attack him. I'm done with that issue!"