The Washington Post

Rick Perry deflects scrutiny over Texas hunting camp, is blasted by Herman Cain

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign spent Sunday deflecting scrutiny of a report in The Washington Post detailing a West Texas hunting camp he once leased with his father that includes a racial epithet in its name.

It is the latest in a series of controversies the candidate has contended with in recent weeks as he seeks to retain the front-runner status he quickly claimed after entering the race seven weeks ago. Perry created a stir Saturday when he told a crowd of New Hampshire Republicans that he would consider sending U.S. troops into Mexico to combat drug violence there.

Sunday’s story detailed Perry’s association with a property known as “Niggerhead,” a name that was painted in block letters across a large rock flanking the property’s entrance. Perry has called the name “offensive” and said his father painted over the word shortly after leasing the land. That account differs from the recollections of seven people cited in the story, and it remains unclear when or whether Perry dealt with the name while using the camp.

One of Perry’s rivals for the GOP nomination, former Godfather’s Pizza executive Herman Cain, criticized Perry in appearances on “Fox News Sunday” and ABC’s “This Week” as tolerating the sign on a property he used. Civil rights activist Al Sharpton called for Perry to explain more fully his relationship to the property or bow out of the presidential race.

“There isn’t a more vile, negative word than the n-word,” Cain said on Fox. “And for him to leave it there as long as he did before he painted over it, it’s just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.”

The Perry campaign put out several statements seeking to control the damage and push back against Cain’s remarks.

“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,” said Ray Sullivan, communications director for Perry’s campaign. “That is why the Perrys took quick action to cover and obscure it.”

Perry has been dogged of late by uneven debate performances; outmuscled by the better-funded operation of his chief rival for the nomination, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney; and barraged with questions about whether some of his more controversial statements hinder his electability in a potential matchup against President Obama.

Perry’s remark Saturday about possibly putting U.S. troops in Mexico was quickly criticized by foreign-policy experts. They said sending forces into Mexico would be unacceptable to the Mexican people, who partly blame the United States for their drug crisis because of U.S. consumption of illegal drugs and its failure to control the flow of guns across the border.

In New Hampshire, Perry offered punchier answers on immigration and Social Security than those he gave during three recently televised debates. He has come under fire from conservatives for supporting the Texas Dream Act, which grants in-state tuition to some illegal immigrants, and for not supporting the construction of a fence along the country’s entire southern border. And he has been criticized by Romney and others over his statements about Social Security, which he has described as a “monstrous lie.”

Over the weekend, Perry said that while the country must brace for a difficult conversation about reining in the cost of Social Security, he has no plans as president to cut into the benefits of current seniors or those near the age of retirement.

On immigration, Perry touted his stand against issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, his support of a requirement that voters present a picture identification before they can cast ballots, and his support for a “sanctuary cities” bill in Texas that would freeze state funding to local governments that bar law enforcement from inquiring about the legal status of detainees.

“No one up there on that stage has a stronger record than I do when it comes to illegal immigration,” Perry told a rain-soaked crowd in Manchester on Saturday.


At Perry camp, racially charged name lingered

Perry campaign responds to hunting camp story

Obama campaign goes on attack

Perry gave millions in tax dollars to banks as their subprime lending boomed

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The Democrats debated Thursday night. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Chris Cillizza on the Democratic debate...
On Clinton: She poked a series of holes in Sanders's health-care proposal and broadly cast him as someone who talks a big game but simply can't hope to achieve his goals.

On Sanders: If the challenge was to show that he could be a candidate for people other than those who already love him, he didn't make much progress toward that goal. But he did come across as more well-versed on foreign policy than in debates past.
The PBS debate in 3 minutes
We are in vigorous agreement here.
Hillary Clinton, during the PBS Democratic debate, a night in which she and Sanders shared many of the same positions on issues
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.