Republican presidential hopefuls are now in the midst of a racially charged debate after it was discovered that GOP candidate Rick Perry’s old West Texas hunting camp was named “N*****head.”
The Washington Post reported Saturday that a large, flat rock at the entrance of the hunting camp had the word “N*****head” painted on it. Longtime hunters, cowboys and ranchers say the camp was known by that name as long as they could remember, and still is. And as recently as this summer, the rock was still there, according to the Post, which says it has photos of the racial slur.
But a Perry campaign official told Politico Sunday, “Governor Perry’s last visit to the Crooked River Ranch was December 2006. He stopped leasing the property in 2007.”
And Ray Sullivan, communications director for RickPerry.org, Inc., disputed The Washington Post article, saying in a statement, “A number of claims made in the story 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 maintains that the racial slur was painted over when he was using the hunting camp.
Herman Cain, the black Republican running in the presidential race, commented on the racial slur rock Sunday and accused Perry of insensitivity towards African Americans.
"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," said Cain on 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."
The fact that Perry is under fire for racial insensitivity is not altogether new for presidential hopefuls.
In a Weekly Standard magazine profile published late last year, Mississippi Governor and former presidential hopeful Haley Barbour came under fire after he said he didn't remember it "being that bad" and referred benignly to white groups called Citizens Councils, which were known to enforce segregationist policies throughout the South.
In a statement, Ray Sullivan of RickPerry.org maintained that Perry’s father painted over “offensive language on a rock” after he leased the land containing the hunting ground in the early 1980s.
“When Governor Perry was party to the hunting lease from 1997 to 2007, the property was described as northern pasture. He has not been to the property since 2006,” Sullivan asserted.