Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is on the defensive after the Washington Post published an extensive report about a family hunting camp that at one point was known as an offensive racial slur — and still is in some circles.
While Perry’s campaign insisted that a rock on the property bearing the name was painted over in the 1980s, the Post reported the rock is very much there, with the name still visible as recently as several months ago:
In the early years of his political career, Rick Perry began hosting fellow lawmakers, friends and supporters at his family’s secluded West Texas hunting camp, a place known by the name painted in block letters across a large, flat rock standing upright at its gated entrance.
“N—–head,” it read.
[T]he name of this particular parcel did not change for years after it became associated with Rick Perry, first as a private citizen, then as a state official and finally as Texas governor. Some locals still call it that. As recently as this summer, the slablike rock — lying flat, the name still faintly visible beneath a coat of white paint — remained by the gated entrance to the camp.
When asked last week, Perry said the word on the rock is an “offensive name that has no place in the modern world.”
“My mother and father went to the lease and painted the rock in either 1983 or 1984,” Perry wrote. “This occurred after I paid a visit to the property with a friend and saw the rock with the offensive word. After my visit I called my folks and mentioned it to them, and they painted it over during their next visit.”
“Ever since, any time I ever saw the rock it was painted over,” Perry said.
Perry’s version of events differs in many respects from the recollections of seven people, interviewed by The Washington Post, who spoke in detail of their memories of seeing the rock with the name at various points during the years that Perry was associated with the property through his father, partners or his signature on a lease.
Herman Cain was the first GOP candidate to attack Perry for the name, calling him “very insensitive” for continuing to hunt there and not acting sooner to remove the name.
“Since Gov. 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’s “This Week.”
“Yes, it was painted over,” he said. “But how long ago was it painted over? So I’m still saying that it is a sign of insensitivity.”
Watch Cain’s interview below, via ABC. Discussion about the name begins at the 2:25 mark.
In a separate interview on Fox News Sunday, Cain addressed the name again, saying the Texas governor showed a lack of sensitivity toward black people.
“There isn’t a more vile, negative word than the ‘n word,’ and for him to leave it there as long as they did is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country,” he said.
Perry’s campaign hit back at the Post’s story, saying a number of claims made are “incorrect, inconsistent and anonymous, including the implication that Rick Perry brought groups to the lease when the word on the rock was still visible.”
“The one consistent fact in the story is that the word on a rock was painted over and obscured many years ago,” Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan said.
“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,” he said.