Oh, brother: Perry to Cain
October 19th, 2011
01:30 PM ET
9 years ago

Oh, brother: Perry to Cain

(CNN) - A spokesman for Rick Perry said the Texas governor was simply being friendly when he twice referred to Herman Cain as "brother" at the CNN Western Republican Presidential Debate on Tuesday.

"He is a friendly fellow. He uses that kind of language. And he views all those folks on stage as colleagues, as fellow Republicans, and he speaks accordingly," said communications director Ray Sullivan on CNN's "American Morning."

Sullivan added that Perry called Romney the same term. When former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and Romney were arguing over health care at one point, Perry could be heard in the background using the word "brother" while trying to jump in on the discussion.

And then can you add the word "But" to transition to the next sentence (and put in SOME before eyebrow), as in:

But Perry raised some eyebrows when he made the reference, saying: "Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something..." and "I'll bump plans with you, brother, and we'll see who has the best idea."

The Twitter universe especially lit up, with hundreds of people expressing surprise over Perry's use of the word.

Some called it painful, cringe-worthy, or flat-out racist.

Others used humor. Hip-hop artist @TalibKweli said: "Did I just see Rick Perry call Herman Cain "brother" twice like some sort of Texan Hulk Hogan?"

Comedian @KathyGriffin also weighed in: "Awkward. I'm waiting 4 Perry 2 say 'jive turkey.'"

But is "brother" a racially-tinged expression or is it, as some have argued, a nod to the two presidential candidates' common Christian faith?

As one Twitter user pointed out, sometimes Christians "great each other with Brother or Sister. Maybe that's the point Perry was making–We're both Christian."

This isn't the first time Perry's campaign has played defense on the issue of racism. Earlier in the month, a Washington Post report said Perry's family leased a hunting ranch that was previously marked by a painted rock with the word "N*****head."

Perry responded saying the story has a number of incorrect claims and that the rock had been painted over many years ago.

Filed under: 2012 • Herman Cain • Rick Perry
soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    As one Twitter user pointed out, sometimes Christians "great each other with Brother or Sister. Maybe that's the point Perry was making–We're both Christian."
    Ahm,umm....no. That wasn't the point Perry was making. Let's not go Pollyanna here. It was a faux-pas. He forgot where he was, and he felt really, really comfortable. He slipped, but he's been slipping in regards to important issues across the board so this is no big deal.

    October 19, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  2. mnmjcr6

    who cares

    October 19, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  3. StaceinTexas

    Really? Insinuating Perry's being racist? Don't be silly. Perry refers to a lot of people like that!

    October 19, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. Maggie

    So what's wrong with the term 'brother". Boy everything has to be so political correct. Lighten up people...its only an expression. If Cain don't mind why is CNN having an article about it. LIGHTEN UP FOLKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 19, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Fareed Ansari

    You have to be a "brother" to call some one a "brother" or either, a disingenuous lame trying to be 'alright' with some one they don't know. That can get you into trouble. Perry used the term "Brother" with only Herman Cain who Perry would not invite to his hunting camp Nikker Head.

    October 19, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. Reasonably

    Seriously? I'm white and use the term all the time. It's a freaking colloquialism that is not owned by any ethnicity. But we easily forget that Righteous Indignation is a powerful drug we all like to wallow in. Grow up, people.

    October 19, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Nothing new here

    Who Perry refers to as "brother" is Perry's own business. Personally, I don't see why this is even an issue. I am more concerned about what Cain's "9-9-9" tax plan will do the low-income families of this nation.

    October 19, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. blf83

    Perry, at least according his rock, would have said "boy," but that seemed just too patronizing.

    October 19, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  9. Amazing

    I don't like either one of them, but this is a not a story. As a black man, i am offended by the media's attempt to manufacture a controversial stroy where none exists. Having lived in the South for the last 20 years, I have heard plenty of white men refer to black and white men with the brother moniker. How about focussing on something more important like the lack of action by Congress in putting Americans back to work?

    October 19, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  10. vatoloke

    Just call him "Homey" next time, Bro!

    October 19, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. jeff

    If it would have been two white men no one would have said much about it. This is a good example of the reverse discrimination that takes place in this country now. Both of these men are trying to live out what they believe as Christians. I did not see the debate and hear how the word brother was said but if you heard the term used you would know by the sound of it if it was meant to be demeaning or in friendship.

    October 19, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  12. EddyL

    Perry is an idiot.

    October 19, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  13. Greg

    Well, Perry hasn't called any other candidate "Brother" in the other debates. He has only used that term for Cain. Not sure why.

    October 19, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  14. ithink122

    It's true, he could have just meant it in a "brothers in Christ" or a "brother in the Republican party" way, that is entirely possible. The word brother is not inherently racist and is used in many situations.

    But the question is, if that is true, why has he never used it before to describe a fellow candidate and why was it only used with Herman Caine? All of the candidates that were on stage are Christian and he didn't call any of the other male ones "brother" or Bachman "sister".

    There may be nothing too it, but taking into account such things as the name of the hunting ranch his family owned, I believe it is news worthy, if only to make people think.

    October 19, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  15. ChristoInferno

    I think Perry is not qualified for the job he's applying for... But I also don't think him saying "brother" was racist. Awkward? Absolutely.

    October 19, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  16. Switters

    After the debate Perry said to Cain, "Hey Homie, you come visit us at the N____Head Ranch................"

    October 19, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  17. GOP Hate America

    There is nothing friendly about that christian inbreed from Texas

    October 19, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  18. Tim NYC

    I think that Perry is at ease with Cain, because Cain appeases to be calm and collective unlike other candidates.

    October 19, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  19. Lance

    It's a Texan thing. White men call other white men brother, they call black men brother. That's the way we speak here. I'm black and it's not offensive at all. It's very different than brotha.

    October 19, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  20. Problem4Perry

    The real problem Perry is facing is that he's not fit for the president's office.:
    a) he wants to 'disempower" the federal government (why's he seeking that office then? is someone paying him for lessening federal authority?)
    b) he's a Texas bumkin, all show no substance (no offense to bumkins of the world)
    c) he is so far right, so self righteous, so narrow minded, he is not fit to run a multicultural country of 300 mill. citizens.
    d) we've had enough Texans in the White House, for a long long time. Listening, jeb??
    e) a (religious) fanatic in a global world. Not good. See Ahmadinejad, Taliban, Chavez...
    f) 30% plus poverty in his state, under his leadership
    g) in cahoots with big money
    h) just another marionette like George W, mouth piece for big money rightwingers.

    October 19, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  21. nagrom

    Yo Bro How they hangin my friend? Kinda like how my ex's and my lawyer greeted each other in front of the judge during our divorce. They hated each other and called each other names. OYE It was so bad but in front of the judge. Hey Brother. SICK!

    October 19, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  22. Dustin

    It's not overt racisim, but being from Texas I can tell you that this is one of those engrained things that is hard to change. I have found myself using that term with my black friends a little more regularly than I do my white friends, but I don't think it means that I or Perry are overt racists. Most of us do things that are/can be seen as racist. That doesn't make us bad people. It's unfortunate that he did it during the debate though. You have to be so careful when running for public office.

    October 19, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  23. Ed DFWTX

    Oh, lordy Brother Perry. You think calling Cain your Brother makes you more like the average Bubba? You are out of the mainstream on issues, whether on the Civil Rights And Voting Rights Acts,Social Security,Secession,etc.; and if you were elected you would turn the clock back on America. America can't afford that.

    October 19, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. Problem4Perry

    Perry calling Cain "brother"?
    Where is Hank Dufus Williams jr when you really need him? I am sure he'd tell us exactly why this brotherly relationship can't work. Seem to remember a "golfing issue" between two different colored brothers, not long ago.
    Hank, wanna have another go at it? (Mao, Chiang kai shek? Lenin, Trotzki? Hitler, Roehm? no wait, the hitler example has been used already... sorry Hank)

    October 19, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  25. DJ in Texas

    Look, I'm Black. Let's move on from this. I don't really care how or why he used it. This is NOT news worthy. I'm more concerned with thier policies over the use of the word "brother". Give me a break. If this is what our political discourse has come to, we're in a deeper than I thought. Some terms are worth looking into. This is not. BTW – I'm not voting for either of these clowns or anyone in the GOP. But again, this is a NON ISSUE.

    October 19, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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