What was supposed to be a recovery weekend for Rick Perry’s presidential campaign turned into another stumble for the Texas governor as reports emerged of his involvement at a camp which bore a racially insensitive name.
The Washington Post shed light over the weekend on the Perry family’s lease on hunting grounds with a name that contained a derogatory term for African Americans. The entrance to the property was once marked by a large stone painted with the offensive term. At some point over the years, the word was painted over to obscure its existence, though Perry’s version of events differed from seven anonymous sources who spoke to the Post.
The Perry camp dove into clean-up mode Sunday, sending two e-mail blasts contesting the story in a matter of hours.
“A number of claims made 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,” read a statement by Ray Sullivan, Perry’s communications director. “The one consistent fact in the story is that the word on a rock was painted over and obscured many years ago.”
The Perry campaign argued the Perrys never owned the land and insisted his father, Ray Perry, painted over the rock in the 1980s.
But presidential candidate Herman Cain was quick to pounce on the story, calling the family’s delay in painting over the rock and renaming the site “insensitive.”
“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. That is why the Perrys took quick action to cover and obscure it,” Sullivan said in a second statement Sunday.
As the Perry team tried to recover from the Post’s story, a new report emerged Monday suggesting the Texas governor spent $35 million in subsidies to attract mortgage companies to the state of Texas, but in the end, the banks engaged in risky lending practices, ultimately closing and resulting in the foreclosures of homes across the state.
According to the report, Perry tried to downplay “early warnings of an impending mortgage crisis as alarmist.”
Perry’s weekend started in Atlanta, where he delivered his first domestic policy speech of the campaign, which was scant on details but laden with attacks on President Obama and rival Mitt Romney. Perry even joked at the event that his wife warned him not to make any comments that could be considered controversial.
Perry departed the Atlanta speech unscathed and traveled to New Hampshire for a town hall Friday night where he seemed to gain his swagger back, even wearing the cowboy boots he’d shed in the early days of the campaign while he delivered a strong defense of his positions on social security and immigration and doubled down on his skepticism of climate change.
But by the end of his tour through New Hampshire Saturday, Perry raised concern over his bold suggestion that U.S. military intervention might be required in Mexico to help end the drug war.
“The way that we were able to stop the drug cartels in Colombia was with a coordinated effort,” Perry said at a reception of New Hampshire kingmaker Ovide Lamontagne. “It may require our military in Mexico working in concert with them to kill these drug cartels and to keep them off of our border and to destroy their networks. I don’t know all the scenarios that are out there but I think it is very important that we work with them, to keep that country from failing.”
Perry has found himself playing defense in recent weeks, facing attacks from his rival and rounds of criticism from pundits. The first round of assaults came over his stance on Social Security and a controversial 2007 mandate that required sixth grade girls in the state of Texas to receive the HPV vaccine.
He then delivered an underwhelming performance in his third presidential debate where he came under attack for his support of a Texas law which grants in-state tuition for illegal immigrants who have lived in the state for three years. That weekend wrapped up with a loss in the Florida Straw Poll, which he campaigned heavily for and was expected to win.
Perry’s week consists of fundraisers in California and ends with a speech to the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C. and campaigning in Iowa over the weekend.