Race Card: WaPo Story Stirs Up Controversy between Perry, Cain

Kate Hicks

10/2/2011 9:42:00 AM - Kate Hicks

The Washington Post is stirring up trouble. In an article published last night, the paper investigates a hunting camp Rick Perry's family leased from 1983-2007, which was formerly known by a racial slur. The story contends that Perry was aware of the offensive moniker, but let it be until he began to use the property for political purposes.

Brooks [a former game warden and hunting guide for Perry] said he saw the rock laid down flat by the gate soon after Perry began bringing lawmakers there. Brooks could not recall exactly when. He did not know who moved the rock.

The other local who visited the ranch with Perry during those years recalled the rock standing upright with the name visible. He said it was painted over years later; he was not sure exactly when but recalled remarking about the change with friends.

“We kind of laughed about it,” recalled this person, who said he would probably vote for Perry if he wins the Republican nomination. “My recollection is that it was several years ago. We were laughing because he had it painted. Because it had always been there. You couldn’t miss it, right there at the gate going in. We laughed about, ‘Rick’s covering his tracks.’?”

It's a weak attempt to paint Perry as racially insensitive, its 3200 words mainly consisting of anonymous interviews and a brief history of Perry's life in rural Paint Creek, Texas. Most of the subjects interviewed spoke positively of Perry, and said the name didn't mean anything.

Perry's communications team issued a statement disputing the story's claims, essentially dismissing them as feeble, drummed up nonsense:

"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.

"Governor Perry and his family never owned, controlled or managed the property referenced in the Washington Post story. The 42,000-acre ranch is owned by the Hendricks Home for Children, a West Texas charity.

"Perry’s father painted over offensive language on a rock soon after leasing the 1,000-acre parcel 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."

But that's not good enough for GOP rival Herman Cain. Appearing on Fox News Sunday this morning, Cain used the story to take another swipe at Perry, after already announcing that he couldn't support the Texas governor if he won the presidential nomination.

Speaking with Chris Wallace on the WaPo's contentions, Cain said, "For him to leave it there as long as he did before, I hear, they finally painted over it is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country."

Perry has yet to address the remarks Cain has made about him, so thus far it's a one-sided political feud. But however exaggerated the WaPo's account of "Rock-gate," it seems to have added to Cain's ammunition against Perry.