Video: As Cain surges, Perry plays defense

  1. Closed captioning of: As Cain surges, Perry plays defense

    >>> it to be easy to find a candidate capable of beating barack obama . republicans knew going in the field would be crowded, attacks would be tough and with just months before the first gop primary it is awfully hard to tell who will end up on top. for the second weekend in a row, a candidate who was dismissed as a minor player is gaining ground. as a struggling front-runner is facing serious new questions. and president obama isn't keeping quiet either. following all of it, mike vicar. vicara. good evening.

    >> reporter: more turmoil and this time over issues of race and minority rights . complete with unwelcome echos from a time that most people would rather forget.

    >> reporter: another win for a rising candidate.

    >> it was herman cane!

    >> reporter: coming off a victory last week in florida today , herman cane did it again. cane's surge comes as rick perry 's fight comes to regain favor with conservatives. this weekend in new hampshire, hitting back on charges he is soft.

    >> we have put legislation in place that said texas is going to do everything in its power to secure the border with mexico.

    >> reporter: after he spoke, some were willing to give perry a second look.

    >> i came in here saying no. i am going out now saying maybe.

    >> reporter: but now a controversy, a report this morning on the north texas ranch leased by perry 's father and used by both men for hunting. for generations a large flat rock greeted visitors at the entrance baring the ranch's racially offensive name. perry says his father painted over the sign in 1983 , but the report quotes anonymous visitors to the ranch stay they saw the sign more recently. today, cane, a campaign rival was critical.

    >> the n word is probably one of the most vile, negative words in our culture. and i just found it insensitive that they allowed it, that he allowed it, his family allowed tight be there so long.

    >> the perry campaign responded quickly. mr. cane is wrong about the perry 's family quick action to eliminate the word on the rock. but is right the word wrilt in by others long ago is sensitive a -- insensitive and offensive.

    >> reporter: chris christie , reviewing the new jersey national guard . but not answering questions about his presidential plans. and last night, president obama gave an impassion address to a major gay rights group.

    >> don't ask, don't tell is history.

    >> reporter: mr. obama was critical of gop candidates after they failed to defend a gay soldier booed during a recent debate.

    >> you ought to be commander-in-chief, you should start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the united states , even when it is not politically convenient.

    >> reporter: still working hard to get support of the republican base. the next big event on the calendar, end of this week, a gathering, social conservatives . kate.

NBC News and msnbc.com
updated 10/2/2011 6:02:42 PM ET 2011-10-02T22:02:42

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain criticized the name of a hunting camp once leased by Gov. Rick Perry's family as "just plain insensitive" in an appearance on Fox News Sunday.

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The name of the camp — "Niggerhead" — was first reported by the Washington Post on Saturday. The paper said the name was painted on a rock at the entrance of the property.

Perry reportedly began hosting fellow lawmakers, friends and supporters at the secluded ranch early in his career. The offensive phrase has been painted over, but the Post's sources and the Perry campaign differ on when that was done.

The Post reports that the name can still be seen through the paint.

"My reaction is, that's just very insensitive," Cain told Fox. "[There] isn't a more vile, negative word than the N-word, and for him to leave it there as long as he did, before I hear that they finally painted over it, is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country."

Longtime hunters, cowboys and ranchers said the place was known by the name as long as they could remember, the Post reported. The name on the rock was given to mountains, creeks and rock outcroppings across the country in earlier times, the Post report said.

Ray Sullivan, Perry's communication's director, pushed back against the Post report on Sunday.

Sullivan said the governor's father, Ray, painted over the name in the early 1980s. That conflicts with the accounts of seven sources who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity. They claim the offensive name was visible during the 1980s and 1990s, when Perry launched his political career, with one source saying the word could be seen as late as 2008.

Sullivan, in a response to NBC News' Carrie Dann, disputed the accuracy of those accounts.

"The rock was obscured in 1983 or 1984 and remained so," he said. "Named interviewees in the story corroborate that. The story has no named sources seeing the name on the rock in later 80s and 90s claim and those unnamed sources contradict one another."

Sullivan said Perry's last visit to the property was in December 2006, and that he stopped leasing it in 2007. The Perry campaign says the story's suggestion that Perry brought guests to the property when the offensive language was visible is also false.

When asked about the name on the rock last week, Perry reportedly told the Post it is "offensive name that has no place in the modern world."

The Post reported that the phrase was still "faintly visible" beneath a coat of white paint as recently as this past summer.

First Read: Perry team pushes back
Washington Post: Camp's old racially charged name lingered

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