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. chuckly

    or 'brother from another colored mother"

    October 19, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. TAK

    At least he didn't call him "boy".

    October 19, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. hilo kits

    call it what it is. my fellow rich brother, "lets screw these poor people."

    October 19, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  4. GonzoinHouston

    I have a long list of reasons to not want Rick Perry for President, but I've lived in Texas longer than he's been governor, and whatever else he is, he isn't a racist. What he really hates is liberals and Democrats, and since minorities tend to trend left, he enacts a lot of policies that harm them.

    October 19, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  5. kikaha

    Perry is showing his true colors. I really like it when republicants say we are past rasicm in this country and then one of there anointed ones lets the cat out of the bag.

    October 19, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  6. Sheila W.

    Much ado about nothing........

    October 19, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. malcolm in St Louis

    yeah he is going to change the ranch name to Brotherhead because he is sensitive now.

    October 19, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. AZ Dem

    Its not racist but he was definitely saying it because he was black..had he said boy we would be having a different discussion.

    October 19, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  9. Kristopher

    So now do we have to say "the b-word"?

    October 19, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. Stacey

    Brother, brother, brother, there's far too many of you dying. He ain't heavy – he's my brother.

    This is a non-issue folks. Perry meant no harm; I see no racial slur in saying "brother" and I'm certainly not one to defend Slick Rick. I think Perry said it in a "religious" way.

    October 19, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  11. Kevin Canuck

    It's subtle, but for Perry, Cain is in a different category because he's black. He didn't call anybody else "brother"or "sister", and several of them have made their Christianity no secret. It's a racial thing.

    It's not malicious or intentional racism, but obviously Perry addressed Cain as brother only because Cain is black.

    When I was young and moved from a little 100% white town to a big multicultural city, I made the same mistake calling a certain young black woman "baby". I thought it was cool and playful and flirty. She let me have it, and rightly so.

    October 19, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. kikaha

    I really doubt that any of you who say you are black and don't see the latent racism in his only calling Herman Cain brother are black at all. More white republicants trying to mask your racism. You really know who the masters are though don't you.

    October 19, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. The Real Tom Paine

    This is a non-issue. What is more to the point is that none of the GOP candidates has a viable plan to more this country forward, and none of them has the ability to deal with a Congress that will be, at the very least, divided if not united in its opposition to a GOP president. Perry did not get legislation thru the legislature in TX, his Lt. Governor and the Speaker did. He has very little real power in TX, and their system is designed to be that way. Romney's thin resume of public service showed his ability to navigate the legislative landscape was, and still is minimal at best, which resulted in his low approval ratings and his decision not run for re-election. Cain has no experience in this situation, and he showed last night he does not handle rejection well: his decision to go attack his rivals is further evidence of that, as well as a short fuse and kind of condescending arrogance that is cloying. None of the top 3 candidates shows the right combination of government experience and a list of accomplishments that will persuade an Independent voter they are worthy of their vote in a general election.

    October 19, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. Bit

    Why are people taking offense to the word "brother." I'm black and the word doesn't offend me. Come on people! Cain and Perry say they are Christians so that means they are my "brothers" in the faith. Even if it wasn't meant in a chrisitan manner, it's still not an offensive term. GEE PEOLE! COME ON!

    October 19, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. kikaha

    Christian Smistian this has nothing to do with religion. Also Jesus would not be a republicant.

    October 19, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. jeff

    Brother is not a racist term. This is reverse discrimination. The people that usually cry rasism, are the ones that keep it going. I am from texas, we all use the term, christian for brother in the lords eyes.

    October 19, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  17. me138

    why is this even news?

    October 19, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. Rubes

    All I have to say brother and sisters of the human race is the candidates are all hipocritical, pharisees with power trips. All in the name of God. I read once that history would repeat it self and these pharisees would turn on the 99% of of for their own gain. The one 1% of aristocrats. Just like in Jesus days. Funny huh... WWJD? He never said I will sell the kindom of heaven and give all profits to the rich. At least that is not what he told the rich guy that wanted to follow him. He sell what what you have AND HELP THE POOR. The rich guy walked away. Seem like that is what these rich guys are doing to us. These politicians are trying to lead with thier own power instead of the real faith. Faith in God, that he is in control. If we follow the example of our big brother on heaven. By thier fruits you shall recognize them.

    October 19, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. rapierpoint

    First off, using "brother" is common in Texas. My dad's been using it referring to his friends (of all races) for decades. Don't know if Perry's been using it like that for decades. I don't think it was any more unpresidential than FDR serving hot dogs to British royalty. At least he didn't say it like the "Huckster" Hulk Hogan, not did he say "bro'".
    As for all the various comments about the ranch, I thought the media had been pretty clear that a) the Perry's didn't own the ranch, they were leasing, and b) they didn't name the ranch either, yet I keep reading comment after comment that is stating the contrary.

    October 19, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. Bruce

    So was it "brother" or "brothah"?

    October 19, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  21. cevans, texas

    Dominican Mama 4 Obama hit the nail on the head. Perry probably insulted Cain by calling him "brother". He's definitely not a "brother". Just because your skin is dark does not make you a "brother". More like an "Uncle Tom"! Oops, did I say that!

    October 19, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. Pat

    It was racism disguised as friendliness, pure and simple. Why? Because he NEVER called any of the male candidates "brother." Only Cain. I cringed when he said it the first time. And even more when he said it again.

    October 19, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. the dogs of war

    Wow silly me! here i was thinking fox news was the propaganda station! its only racist if you are. brother.

    October 19, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  24. Sandman

    Look, all Perry was trying to do was remind America that this Cain person polling at the top of the Republican ticket is a Black Man (in case America had not noticed or had forgotten), wink. wink.

    October 19, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. Oleg

    He should have just called him "Bro" instead of Brother.

    October 19, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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