Republican rival criticizes Perry over racial slur scandal

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is criticizing rival Rick Perry for what he calls “offensive” language in the name of a Texas hunting camp his family once leased.

Romney told Sean Hannity’s radio show Monday that he found the camp’s name, Niggerhead, inappropriate and said he called on Perry to address it.

The campaign says the Texas governor and his family never controlled, owned or managed the property.

The Washington Post reported Sunday there was no definitive account for when and how the name first appeared on rock at property’s gate.

People interviewed for its story remember seeing the rock with the name at various points during the 1980s and 1990s, the period in which the Perrys had the hunting lease and Perry brought friends to the site. Some of those interviewed said they worried that it could become a political liability for Perry.

The White House says the name is “clearly offensive.” But press secretary Jay Carney says Perry evidently thinks so, too, and passed up a chance to criticize the GOP presidential hopeful over the racial slur.

Perry has said it’s an offensive name and that once he saw it, sometime in 1983 or 1984, he raised it with his parents and the word was painted over.

He told the Post that the word on the rock is an “offensive name that has no place in the modern world.”

Ray Sullivan, communications director for the Perry campaign, said the governor’s father, Ray Perry, leased the hunting rights in the early 1980s and that Rick Perry was on the lease from 1997 to 2007.

Rick Perry has not visited the property since December 2006, Sullivan said.

“Mr. [Herman] 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.