Texas Gov. Rick Perry denied Thursday 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 Washington Post reported its existence over the weekend.

“I think there were very much some strong inconsistencies and just misinformation in that story,” the Republican presidential candidate told Fox News. “I know for a fact that in 1984, that rock was painted over. It was painted over very soon, my family did that.

“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 had seen the name on the rock at points in the 1980s and 1990s; one recalled seeing it as recently as 2008. Some of the seven are Perry supporters.

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

The Post’s national editor, Kevin Merida, responded: “We submitted detailed written questions to the Perry campaign, and included in our story all of the points Governor Perry wished to make. We stand by our story.”

Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) introduced a resolution in the House demanding that Perry apologize. The measure was blocked in a vote mostly down party lines.

Perry’s Republican rivals have largely avoided the issue.

Former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive Herman Cain initially said that it was “insensitive,” but he later tempered his reaction. “They painted over it,” he told reporters. “I’m not playing the race card.”

Former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) offered mild criticism, saying that “it was poor judgment if he did leave it up there.”

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