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. Latch

    Perry's down with the Blacks, just like Trump.

    October 19, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. Ron

    I'm a Democrat and a black man and it actually show a more humanistic side or down home side of Rick Perry I don't see or feel anything racist or condecenting about it the whole teaparty movement is much more oppresive and threatening than someone calling me brother...at least it shows some sort of effort

    October 19, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  3. no1atall

    Nah. You got nothing. Nobody watches for racism (blatant or hidden) like I do, and I still say there was nothing to the brother comment other than Perry's weak attempt at posing as an 'ok guy'.

    October 19, 2011 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  4. Ben

    Just watched George Carlin's "7 words" again...yep, "brother" is still not on the list of things you can't say.

    Hey CNN, you do know that there are some pretty significant events going on all over the world, right? No reason to try and make up some news. There's some actually happening right now.

    October 19, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  5. dreucalypt

    I don't like Perry, but I don't hear a slur in what he said.

    October 19, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. no1atall

    Besides, Cain is that type of Black person that could sit at a poker table with whites, listen to them banter racist jokes all night, laugh like they were the funniest thing in the world, go home, get drunk, and beat his wife up for release of his anger. Loser.

    October 19, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  7. Kwesoe

    I'm moving to Taxas. Governor Perry, he ain't heavy, he's my brother.

    October 19, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  8. Ron

    Come on! stop the militancy and not make something out of nothing I am as Black as they come but it is truly a non-issue I would much rather know where someone is coming from instead of this covert crap I say be up front wit it and we can deal from there...now for his underlying agenda that is something else..

    October 19, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. Kman821

    Wasn't Perry's hunting camp callled "brotherhead"?

    October 19, 2011 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  10. Captain Awesome

    Oh brother! Just another lame attempt by the media and the left at creating a pseudo scandal. Nothing to see here folks.

    October 19, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  11. Tafari

    All men are Brothers.

    It matters not what race or background the speaker is from.

    This is an example to be followed, not criticized!

    October 19, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  12. Janet

    Perry is a hapless fool.
    "Brother" isn't a particularly racist thing to say unless, of course, it's coming out of the mouth of a racist. And he did not say the same to Romney.
    Nothing really suggests Perry is a racist. But he doesn't seem comfortable around those unlike himself. Not a good character trait for a presidential hopeful. He and Bachmann really have to drop out of the race and return home to Dumbville.

    October 19, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. Buster Bloodvessel

    It sounded condescending to me, but I'm not a Black Republican. I guess they have to put up with old white guys calling them 'Homey' and 'Bro' and asking them what it is if they want to be Party Members.

    October 19, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  14. FIELD1stSGT

    I guess Perry you must kiss the rear end of the donkey to not be called a racist. I do not understand what these idiots want other than for us to drop off the planet. Without us to figger things out I wonder how long they would last until they became Africa, starving and eat up with HIV .

    October 19, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. Buster Bloodvessel

    Rapier, they leased it for years. Long years, and never changed the name until he went into politics.

    October 19, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  16. Man DeLorean

    I don't necessarily like Perry or Cain, but this is a non-issue. It's a Southernism, and especially common among evangelicals. Everyone is "brother," just like Paula Deen calls everybody "hon". Go find something else to pick on–those two are sure to give you plenty.

    October 19, 2011 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  17. Swampdweller

    I don't think it was intended as a racist use of the word, but Perry is so politically tone-deaf, he didn't realize that some might take it that way; he's only creating problems for himself - so I hope he keeps putting his foot in his mouth.

    October 19, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. The Unsub

    Perry just though he had it like that. I expected him to rub Cain's head.

    October 19, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "Can someone here answer the following question in 20 words or less
    Why is it wrong to ask all Americans to share the pain of funding the government ?"

    Plutocracy. The GOP wants it.

    Can anyone beat 5 words?

    October 19, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. mb

    I thought I was the only one who noticed! If he HAD in fact said it to any of the other "Christians" up there, I would have thought, fine. Weird and not very Presidential, but fine. But he only said it to Cain and I felt it was derogatory.

    October 19, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. Orlop

    The first time was not a big deal but the 2nd time I got the distinct impression that Perry was letting us all know that he was bi-lingual and spoke "Jive"

    October 19, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. me138

    it really is amazing to me just how racist the Democrats are. Well i suppose not that surprising considering the democrats created the kkk, but dang I thought you democrats put that racist junk behind you? well reading these comments it is apparent racism is alive and well in the democrat party what a shame.

    October 19, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  23. Dan J

    I despise Perry. I adore Cain. But there is nothing here. Let's be honest.

    October 19, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "it really is amazing to me just how racist the Democrats are. Well i suppose not that surprising considering the democrats created the kkk, but dang I thought you democrats put that racist junk behind you? well reading these comments it is apparent racism is alive and well in the democrat party what a shame."

    Gonna cite examples or just leave it at that so we can assume you were doing nothing more than offering a parody of the kind of thing a barely sentient Teatroll woudl say?

    October 19, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  25. AceRyder

    You've got to be kidding me? People say this all of the time.

    October 19, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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