Herman Cain’s attack on Rick Perry was a mistake

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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After Sunday’s Washington Post reported that Texas Governor Rick Perry had utilized a Texas hunting camp named “Niggerhead,” GOP candidate Herman Cain (a former pizza exec. and the only black candidate running for the GOP presidential nomination) wasted little time in accusing Perry of being insensitive to racial issues.

“Since Governor Perry has been going there for years to hunt,” Cain told ABC’s “This Week,” 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.”

When anchor Christiane Amanpour pushed back — noting that the rock had actually been painted over — Cain doubled-down, saying: “But how long ago was it painted over? So I’m still saying that it is a sign of insensitivity.’’

(Cain made similar comments on Fox News Sunday — demonstrating that this was not a gaffe made in response to a question that simply caught him off guard.)

In a prepared release, Perry Campaign Communications Director Ray Sullivan responded to Cain’s attack, saying: “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 reiterated that the rock had been painted and turned over, and that “The Perrys did not own, name or control the property, they simply rented hunting rights to 1,000 acres of the ranch.”

My take? Cain’s comments were — at best – premature — and at worst, highly irresponsible. It was a cheap shot, and perhaps is a signal that Cain is willing to play the race card against a fellow Republican when it benefits him.

The fact that Cain spoke out so soon — basing his comments on a newly-posted and thinly-sourced article published by an outlet many conservatives believe to have a liberal bias — speaks to Cain’s lack of political judgment.

This isn’t the first time Cain’s penchant for talking has gotten him in trouble, but in this instance, Cain has aided and abetted those who wish to portray southern conservatives as racists. In so doing, Cain provides cover for anyone wishing to cast Perry as such.

Just last week, Sarah Palin noted that “Herb” Cain was the “flavor of the week.” By siding with the Washington Post and Al Sharpton — against a fellow Republican who appears to have done nothing wrong — Cain might just have proven Palin right.

Matt K. Lewis