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. walt

    I agree that christians do refer to each other as brother and sister. But the fact is that Perry has not called any of the other candidates "brother" and the fact that Cain is black influenced the outcome of his response. It was not racist in the sense the media would like to make it out to be, but Cain being black is why he used the word.

    October 19, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. Nah

    problem: "a) he wants to 'disempower" the federal government (why's he seeking that office then? is someone paying him for lessening federal authority?)"

    Gee. Let's think about it. He believes the federal government is too powerful and is over stepping its bounds. He can either a) sit back and do nothing, b) continue being governor while being run over by Congress, or c) join the federal government precisely so he can constrain its power and do some "good".

    "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."

    Hate Perry all you want, but you show how incredibly ignorant you are with this statement. Perry was known in Texas for coming to incredible compromises with his opposition, and helping pass legislation that included terms both sides wanted.

    You might avoid embarrassment if you weren't so dogmatic and partisan. 🙂

    October 19, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. Tish

    Nothing to see here...if he called him 'boy' that would be another story but 'brother' is harmless enough. I know Perry is dumber than a bag of rocks but he should refer to the panelist with the same endearment.

    October 19, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. Silence DoGood

    I am so glad the lack of jobs, wars, and poverty have been erased and the media can now focus on what might be inferred from an opinion of a single word. It is easier than real journalism.

    October 19, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  5. Larry L

    Maybe Perry should have the term "Brother Head" painted on the rock at his ranch...

    October 19, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  6. Phyllis

    I'm getting tired of Perry. This use of "brother" was one of many stupid things he did last night. Let's hope he does not get the nomination. I can just see him call President Obama 'bro"

    October 19, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  7. Rak

    I watched the debates. I am a Democrate. I didn't take Perry's commit as racist. I refer to most guys as "brother" on a regular basis, and I am okay when others (of all races) refer to me as the same. It could be a southern thing. or even an island thing-if you ever visited Hawaii. This should fall under "Man-Law", and not racism. I am a Black American.

    October 19, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  8. Mark

    Wow, this guy continues to surprise and entertain. He acts like he might have a hard time counting to 100. And yet Texans continue electing this buffoon over and over again. He is scarey dumb, and relishes in his own ignorance. Like so many Texans!

    October 19, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  9. Rsprings

    There they go!!!! The racist liberals trying to make the use of Perry's "brother " comment racist. Evangelicals refer to each other as brother often when speaking to each other.

    October 19, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. Jimi

    It wasnt racist, it was just obnoxious – he called Romney Brother too. Someone must have told him to appear more sociable and this was the result

    October 19, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  11. GOP = Greed Over People

    This should be easy for the Perry campaign to explain, just point out how many times Perry referred to Romney as "brother".

    October 19, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  12. MasterWooten

    "Racial issue"??? Really??? Can CNN stand 5 minutes without trying to find a "racial issue" everywhere?

    Man you people are pathetic!

    October 19, 2011 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  13. Peniah

    The term "brother" is suspect. we should keep digging to the bottom of this. I think a special committee should be set up to investigate this- please raise as much dust as you can- at least until November 2012. Thank you!!

    October 19, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. Dan

    I can't believe people are bringing race into this. It's such a tired act. "Brother" in this case is just a southern colloquialism. I'm from Georgia and I heard it all the time when I was young. I'm not a fan of Perry, but to insinuate that this is a race issue is absurd.

    October 19, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  15. rick

    uncle ruckus AKA herman cain is a white man with revertilago, thats the oppiste of what MJ has, so how was perry being racist?

    October 19, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  16. jayinhtown

    maybe Perry and Cain have the 'same' mother, and or, or father and that is why Perry calls Cain 'brother'?

    October 19, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  17. Mike Dallas

    Maybe Perry thought "brother" was better than "that one"!

    October 19, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  18. Dyermoe

    There's no question Perry was calling Cain brother because he's black, but that isn't an insult. To claim that it's racist is terribly insulting, and quite frankly, claiming that it's racist is more racist than calling him brother.

    October 19, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. Independent Voters

    Perry need to be careful what he say running for president because calling bro is very racist in the black community.
    But the debate had nothing but some clowns on stage maken theyselves look like fool.
    Bachman was the worst one because she kept saying Obama, Obama, Obama i was like what wrong with her keep saying the president name and Perry and Romney look like they wanted to fight each other.

    October 19, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    Oh brother...this entire thread is rather dumb. You know, just because blacks use the word does NOT mean everybody else CAN'T use it. Ridiculous. Political correctness gone mad.

    October 19, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. Sister

    Don't start with the inbreeding jokes, but I think it's a Southern thing. My father calls my brother (his son) 'Brother'...and my brother calls Dad, 'Brother' . They're 84 and 56, respectively. It's just something they say to each other when they're talking man stuff...as in, "Brother, pass me that there hammer" "Here ya go, Brother". They're both Christian, and 'persons of pallor', so don't make it into something it isn't. Perry and cain are both Southerners, so I doubt if either of them thought anything of it...

    October 19, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. Patricia Tharp

    Regardless of anything else, the term "brother" showed how unpresidential Perry is. Have you EVER heard anything like that in any other debate in history? I think not.

    October 19, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  23. Vanessa

    I'm a Christian and I've only heard men call each other Brother in church, and usually it was the pastor in the pulpit. Again, Perry says he said it as one Christian to another, but then his campaign manager says he also said it referring to Romney. But then on the instant replay, turns out he didn't say it to Romney after all. His backpedaling and attempt at an explanation for his foot-in-mouth disease is as bad as his preacher friend saying that Mormons aren't Christian, and he could only vote for a Christian, then in the next breathe says he would vote for Romney over Obama. It's pretty obvious why, and Christianity certainly has nothing to do with it.

    October 19, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  24. thomas

    Sounds like Perry and Cain need to take a few days off and go up to N--head ranch and shoot some critters !

    Oh , Brother !

    October 19, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. chuckly

    I think he meant 'brother of another color'

    October 19, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
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