Perry at center of racial slur controversy

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on October 2, 2011 at 10:25 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 3 at 5:32 PM

DALLAS — There is new trouble in Gov. Rick Perry's bid for the GOP presidential nomination.

A page from Perry's past could give republicans even more reason to urge New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to enter the race.

Perry's camp spent much of the day Sunday trying to downplay a national report on the governor's history at a hunting ranch named after a racial slur.

The facility is in Throckmorton County, west of Fort Worth and not far from his childhood home in West Texas.

The Perry family leased the hunting ranch that for years had the "n-word" in its title. It is a a revelation that instantly ignited a firestorm for the Texas governor.

"That is very insensitive, and since Gov. Perry has been going there for years to hunt, I think it shows a lack of sensitivity," said rival GOP candidate Herman Cain.

The slur was on a rock outside the camp's gate. Perry insists that his father painted over the offensive word in 1983, soon after Rick Perry spotted it and before he had entered politics.

But a story in the Washington Post questions that account. Several anonymous interviews said the slur endured outside the ranch for years — while Perry was governor and even while he entertained guests there, the newspaper story claims.

Perry's campaign strongly denies that he ever tolerated the slur and blasted the Post's story.

"A number of claims 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," an official Perry campaign statement said

"Yes, it was painted over, but how long ago was it painted over?" asked Herman Cain. "I'm still saying it's a sign of insensitivity."

Names incorporating racial slurs were common in rural areas of Texas before the civil rights movement.

Perry insists he hasn't been to the camp since 2006, and says he has a strong record of embracing diversity.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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