Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. submitted a resolution today in the House of Representatives to “call on Rick Perry to apologize for not immediately doing away with the rock that contained the word ‘N*****head’ at the entrance of a ranch he was leasing on and which he was taking friends, colleagues and supporters to hunt.”
The Illinois Democrat took to the House floor today to read the resolution, and recapped the details of a Washington Post article titled, “Rick Perry and a Word Set on Stone,” which revealed details of the Texas governor’s association with a piece of hunting property in Texas, where a slab-like rock read “N*****head” for many years.
“It calls on Governor Rick Perry to condemn the use of this word as being totally offensive and inappropriate at any time and at any place in United States history,” Jackson said of the resolution. “Lastly, it calls upon Governor Rick Perry to list the names of all lawmakers, friends and financial supporters he took with him on his hunting trips to N*****head.”
Ray Sullivan, communications director for Rick Perry, dismissed Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s resolution, saying: “With our nation’s economy faltering and the American people desperate for recovery, surely Congress has better things to do.”
Jackson, Jr. said that “the vast majority of the people of the United States were morally outraged” by the story, and then he went highlighted aspects of Perry’s upbringing in western Texas, quoted witness accounts of the seemingly racist mentality of the community, and remarked that “some local residents still call [the property] by the morally repugnant name, ‘N*****head.’”
“Governor Perry grew up in a…segregated era, whose history has defined and complicated the careers of many Southern politicians,” Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., said. “Governor Perry has spoken often about his upbringing in his sparsely populated farming community influenced his conservatism.”
Jackson, Jr., who drew his own primary challenger this week in his campaign for reelection to the House, said that even though the Perry family apparently took action to cover up the offensive word, “How, when, or whether Governor Perry dealt with it when he was using the property isn’t clear and adds a dimension to the emerging biography of Governor Perry.”
Rick Perry made his first public comments Wednesday night on the controversy and insisted his family painted over the word at their first opportunity.
“All of us agree that the word that was on that rock is a very offensive rock and a very offensive word. At the moment we had to move to paint over that rock, we did,” Perry told Fox News in an interview that aired Wednesday night. ”There were some very much and strong inconsistencies and just infactual information that was in that story. I know for a fact 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.”
Jackson, Jr. also pointed out that Herman Cain is the only Republican presidential candidate to criticize Perry “for being insensitive when the word was not immediately condemned,” and he called for “Perry’s presidential rivals, who have not yet made strong statements of outrage over the rock that contained the word, to do so.”
“My reaction is that it is very insensitive. Since Governor Perry has been going there for years to hunt, I think that it shows a lack of sensitivity for a long time of not taking that word off of that rock and renaming the place. It’s just basically a case of insensitivity,” Cain said last weekend on “This Week.”
In the 1990 agriculture commissioner’s race, Perry was accused of running race-baiting ads which included photos of opponent Jim Hightower with Jesse Jackson and featured phrases over those pictures saying “Does Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower share your values?” and the second ad asked “Do Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower’s scandals bother you?”
On Monday, Perry’s spokesman said the ad “truthfully highlighted Mr. Hightower’s role in the ’88 presidential campaign and truthfully demonstrated his very liberal politics to Texas general election voters.”
“The same add also mentioned Hightower’s unkind words about George H.W. Bush (a Texan) and Hightower comments about flag-burning,” Sullivan stated. “Supporting very liberal presidential candidate, bashing Bush and seeming to be unbothered by flag-burning. Not Texas values, so said the ad. Voters agreed.”
ABC News’ Arlette Saenz contributed to this report