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Perry responds to hunting camp story

at 02:34 PM ET, 10/06/2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) denied that a racial epithet was visible on a rock outside the hunting camp his family once leased in his first on-camera television interview since the Post reported its existence over the weekend.

“I think there were very much some strong inconsistencies and just misinformation in that story,” Perry told Fox News Channel reporter Juliet Huddy in an interview this morning. “I know for a fact that in 1984, that rock was painted over. It was painted over very soon, my family did that.”

“We painted over that rock and it stayed that way. I have no idea where or why people would say that they had seen that rock, because that’s just not the fact,” he added.

In the Post report, seven people said that they saw the name on the rock at points in the 1980s and 1990s; one recalled seeing it as recently as 2008.

After the story was published, a Perry spokesman disputed the Post account, saying that “a number of claims made in the story are incorrect, inconsistent, and anonymous.”

Post National Editor Kevin Merida responded: “Our story was carefully reported and handled with great sensitivity. We submitted detailed written questions to the Perry campaign, and included in our story all of the points Gov. Perry wished to make. We stand by our story.”

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) introduced a resolution in the House demanding that Perry apologize for not immediately removing the offending rock; the measure was blocked in a vote mostly down party lines.

Perry’s Republican rivals have largely avoided the issue.

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain initially said that it was “insensitive to a lot of black people in this country,” but he later walked back that comment, saying: “I really don't care about that word. They painted over it ... I’m not playing the race card.” Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum offered mild, qualified criticism, saying that “it was poor judgment if he did leave it up there.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney also declined to attack Perry, saying on Monday: “All I would say is that it’s — the name is clearly offensive and, from what I’ve read, I mean, I have no inside knowledge beyond what I’ve read, the governor shares that opinion.”

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