February 3rd, 2010
08:03 PM ET
5 years ago

Top Perry aide used 'R' word, Hutchison campaign alleges

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is running for a third term but faces two Republican opponents.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is running for a third term but faces two Republican opponents.

Washington (CNN) – Sarah Palin caused a stir this week when she demanded that President Obama fire his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for using the word "retarded" to describe Democrats opposed to the administration's health care plans.

Now that Palin is headed to Texas to campaign for Gov. Rick Perry in his re-election bid, the campaign manager for Perry's rival Kay Bailey Hutchison is alleging that a top Perry aide used the very same term during a recent conference call.

Terry Sullivan, Hutchison's campaign manager, told CNN that Perry consultant Dave Carney dropped the "R" word repeatedly during a recent planning call between the three gubernatorial campaigns to walk through logistics for their Jan. 14 debate in Denton. The third candidate in the Republican primary is former Wharton County GOP chairwoman Debra Medina.

According to Sullivan, Carney became "bombastic and agitated" when he learned that one of the candidate holding rooms would be in a separate building from the debate venue. (Perry's team eventually got the holding room they wanted.)

"That's just retarded," Carney said when he learned about the holding room location, according to Sullivan. "That's the most retarded thing I've ever heard."

Sullivan said Carney used the word once again minutes later as the camps discussed how the debate footage would be used after the forum.

A spokesman for Perry did not respond to a request for comment on the call, nor did an aide to Palin, who is heading to Texas on Sunday to appear with the governor.

The executive producer of the debate, Rick Thompson of public television station KERA, would not comment on the conference call, telling CNN that "all pre-debate discussions and negotiations are confidential."

Sullivan said he was not under the impression that the call was confidential.

Palin, whose youngest son Trig has Down Syndrome, wrote on her Facebook page Monday that the word "retarded" is "a slur on all God's children with cognitive and developmental disabilities." She said Emanuel's use of the term, first reported in a Wall Street Journal article, was "unacceptable" and "heartbreaking."


Filed under: 2010 • Kay Bailey Hutchison • Popular Posts • Rick Perry • Sarah Palin • Texas
soundoff (252 Responses)
  1. Sally

    Let's see how Sarah respond to Rush Limbaugh using the "R" word!!!

    February 3, 2010 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  2. ItsTheCongress

    Having spent time with Down's Syndrome people over the years, I wonder, sometimes, if they are what humans should be and the rest of us are suffering from some type of disorder. In any case, maybe the use of the word "retarded" would not be so offensive if it was retricted to defining politicians.

    February 3, 2010 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  3. Michael Hsu

    What's wrong with the word 'retarded'? It's appropriately used in words like 'libtard' (noun), 'libtarded' (adjective).

    February 3, 2010 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  4. Derek

    All this complaining about using the word retarded is the most retarded thing I've heard in a long time. These people just want to complain about something. Its called freedom of Speech people, and if you are going to throw a fit over every little thing people say you are going to lose the whole purpose of Freedom of Speech. I hope they continue to use the word retarded any time it is due.

    February 3, 2010 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  5. Takes one to know one

    Rahm is okay using the R-word, he is one.

    February 3, 2010 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  6. usualone

    People need to realize that "retarded" does not refer to people with disabilities. It is a antiquated word, in my opinion, and Webster's Dictionary defines it as "slow or limited in intellectual, emotional, or academic progress." So a student who struggles in school could have "retarded" applied to them, even though they could be quite brilliant. Just think how many uses this word could have. Political correctness is too extreme when one is too sensitive to this word. The ones using it should expand their vocabulary to avoid these short-fused situations.

    February 3, 2010 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  7. William

    This non-story shows the absurdity of this whole little "R-word" - the word's "retarded" - episode. Yes, it's offensive in context and people should be careful to avoid it as they would any other slur. But that doesn't mean we should fire people for using it off-handedly or try to "out" campaign staffers for saying it on a private call.

    The only reason I take pleasure in this is because it puts Palin and the GOP in an awkward bind: they've exploded over Rahm Emanuel's use of the word; what can they do now?

    February 3, 2010 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  8. Elliot M

    Headline should read: Top Perry aide used 'R' word, no one cares. We've all used it. Sure we can change the accepted term to "developmentally disabled", but in ten years Palin will cry about someone calling something "disabled".

    February 3, 2010 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  9. GaryB

    Rush Limbaugh likes to use the "R" word as well. I'm sure Palin will reprimand him on her Facebook page any day now.

    February 3, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  10. Matt

    This is the most retarded story I have read all week.

    February 3, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  11. Concerned Voter

    This will be a perfect display of Palin's character. Will she play politics as usual and excuse a fellow Republican or call him out for his distasteful language? Is she truly an advocate about these issues or an opportunist with a large soap box?

    The ball is in your court Ms. Palin. Choose wisely, America is watching.

    February 3, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  12. Ken, AZ

    Unfortunately, it only matters if someone associated with President Obama uses the "R" word. Much ado about nothing.

    February 3, 2010 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  13. Adam Walburger

    Well it would actually be retarded because having the room somewhere inconvenient would prevent them from working effeiciently or retard their work???

    February 3, 2010 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  14. Mr Right

    YAAAAAAWN dont we have a recession, cap and tax, healthcare ripoff to worry about MSM how bout squeezing that goofy liberal Obama to see if any truth can pop out, thats your roll 4th arm of the gov is lie detector, do your job.

    February 3, 2010 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  15. GG

    Are corporations allowed to say retarded? Or are they just allowed to influence elections? Freedom of speech? Soon there is going to be a Family Guy or Simpsons where retarded is the word of the day... Palin is pathetic.

    February 3, 2010 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  16. Fed Up Voter

    What's retarded is this article. Get over it Palin, retarded is an insult to a person if it is USED AGAINST A PERSON. Of course, we must consider Palin's ability to comprehend (anything). For the record folks, I'm a conservative and think Palin is an embarrassment, a buffoon, and a liability for the Republican Party. FYI Palin, having a child with Down's doesn't give you license over the word retarded. I live in Texas, please stay out.

    February 3, 2010 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  17. geshrwh

    Wondering if Palin will be calling for Rick Perry's dropping from the race over his use of the offensive R term? But wait...he's a Republican, so I don't expect any comment from Palin any time soon-she's such a phoney!(and laughing all the way to the bank!)

    February 3, 2010 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  18. No more political correctness

    Kay is just trying to get in the news and tear down her opponent. Weak and weak.

    I posted that Rahm, although crude and crass, didn't need to apologize in the name of political correctness. It's silly that everyone gets offended so easily.

    February 3, 2010 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  19. No more political correctness

    And shouldn't CNN be above hear/say? If it were on tape, post it. If not, leave it alone... unless you have a left wing agenda.

    February 3, 2010 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  20. clr33

    I will wait to hear the proof – as I don't believe the "he said she said" – but I would imagine if it is true – Perry will dump the aide. HE doesn't talk this way. That is a big difference than Ram using this word given HIS position -he is not an AIDE. Though – to me "R" stands for Ram – which is the same thing as the "R" word we don't want to say.

    February 3, 2010 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  21. maine liberal

    there is going to be alot of apologies

    LIMBAUGH: Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards. I mean these people, these liberal activists are kooks. They are looney tunes. And I’m not going to apologize for it, I’m just quoting Emanuel. It’s in the news. I think their big news is he’s out there calling Obama’s number one supporters f’ing retards. So now there’s going to be a meeting. There’s going to be a retard summit at the White House. Much like the beer summit between Obama and Gates and that cop in Cambridge.

    February 3, 2010 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  22. Jason

    LOL. The "R" word now. I think every letter of the alphabet now has an official word.

    February 3, 2010 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  23. Sean

    Wow, has it really come to this? I guess the GOP is now the party of the politically correct. Along the lines of "chicken or the egg," is someone an idiot before they go to Congress or do they become one when they get there. The American people deserve more than the two-party system offers.

    February 3, 2010 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  24. Jolat

    If it's any consolation, there is a difference between referring to a situation, versus referring to a person. It's like the difference between saying, these 'decorations are idiotic', or saying 'your an idiot.'

    February 3, 2010 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  25. mark

    This is retarded, get back to making laws... retards

    February 3, 2010 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
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