Businessman Herman Cain on Sunday called it "insulting" that the family of Rick Perry leased a hunting camp with a racially charged name well into the 1980s and possibly even later.
According to a Washington Post article that appeared Sunday, the hunting camp leased by the Texas governor was branded with the name "N-----head." The word -- reportedly on a rock at the entrance of the 1,070-acre parcel -- has been painted over and the camp renamed.
Perry has said it was changed in 1983 or 1984, but others suggest it may not have been covered until later -- with one person estimating for the Post that it was as late as 2008.
There "isn't a more vile, negative word than the N-word, and for him to leave it there as long as he did, until before, I hear, they finally painted over it, is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country," said Cain, who is running against Perry and a group of others for the Republican presidential nomination.
In a statement released after Cain's appearance, Perry's campaign communications director Ray Sullivan said many of the article's claims 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. He said the Perry was party to the lease from 1997-2007 but has not been there since 2006, two decades after the name was painted over.
Sullivan also took issue with Cain's evaluation.
"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," he said.
During his appearance on "Fox News Sunday," Cain also rebutted accusations of his own insensitivity for accusing a majority of black Americans of being "brainwashed" to vote for the Democrats rather than consider the candidate or the message.
He said he thinks it's far more "insulting" to the black community for President Obama to appear before the Congressional Black Caucus and scold the audience because it is not supportive of his policies.
"His policies have failed the country, his policies have failed black people. That's more insensitive, that's more insulting to me, rather than me using the term 'brainwashed,'" Cain said. Cain said he used the term "brainwashed" after a series of incidents in which some black voters refused to read his literature on his 9-9-9 tax plan because he's a conservative and a Republican.
"I call that brainwashed. How how can they make up their mind against something when they don't know what it is?" Cain asked. "So this is why I'm saying some of them have been brainwashed, not even to consider an alternative point of view if the person is running as a Republican or they're supposedly a conservative."
He said he thinks he could get a third of the black vote because those are people "thinking for themselves."
Cain, in responding to a line of questioning about whether the GOP -- which currently has two black House members compared to the 42 in the Democratic Party and had none from 2002-2010 -- is a welcome place for minority Americans, rejected claims that the party is not a place for minority voters.
He also credited the Tea Party movement for his meteoric rise in the Republican race. The "citizens movement" is "rewriting the laws to this political landscape" -- not toward a discussion on race, but toward solutions, he said.
"If it were not for the citizens Tea Party movement, if it were not for the power of the Internet, I wouldn't be in this race making the moves that I'm making right now," Cain said.
"The voice of the people, they're not looking at history and what the reputation of the Republican Party might have been. They're now looking at this guy, Herman Cain, is now putting real solutions on the table. This is what I believe the people are starved for," he added.
Cain, who emerged in the latest Fox News poll just 2 points behind Perry and about 6 percentage points behind Mitt Romney, offered a rebuttal to arguments his 9-9-9 tax plan is regressive, and would hurt lower income Americans because it creates a national sales tax of 9 percent across the board, but also lowers the income tax rate so all earners -- including the wealthiest -- pay 9 percent. The other 9 percent would be the rate for corporate taxes.
According to an analysis by The Christian Science Monitor, someone making $20,000-$50,000 would pay a higher percentage of tax, while someone earning $300,000 would have his or her taxes reduced.
Cain said he didn't know the assumptions being used, including whether the payroll tax is included, but the bottom line is that "at $50,000 a year, that family is going to be $2,000 ahead."
"The objective was to broaden the base and make the whole tax code fairer for everybody. It levels the playing field, it gets rid of all the loopholes but the more important thing, it gets the government out of the business of trying to pick winners and losers and trying to decide what's regressive and what's not regressive," he said.
Cain added that his proposal would require the Senate include a two-thirds vote for any changes to the tax code after it becomes law. On top of that, he said, as president, "I'm going to be working on brining down the debt, so we're not going to have that tendency to continue to raise it because spending is out of control the way it is now."
And if words matter, Cain offered a few choice ones for his competitors and would-be competitors in the Republican presidential race. He called Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian favorite, a "grumpy old man" because he wants to end every program rather than fixing it.
He said former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is "stressed" and said Romney has "good hair" but his experience in business has been on Wall Street, not Main Street.
Cain added that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who's not a contender but has been courted to run, is too liberal for GOP voters because of his positions on border security and global warming.
"If you go right down the line, he's going to turn off a lot of conservatives with those positions," he said.