The past few weeks haven’t been good for Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry.

After vaulting to the head of the pack of GOP candidates last month, the Texas Governor has steadily been losing steam. Blame it on his dismal presidential debate performances, which found Perry flubbing answers and looking unprepared, or on his stance on providing the children of illegal immigrants access to higher education (he’s for it). Whatever the case may be, Rick Perry’s stock has been falling fast.

Now, the Washington Post just released an in interesting, and potentially inflammatory, article about Perry’s family hunting ranch affectionately known as “Niggerhead.”

According to the article, Perry and his family leased a ranch just outside of Paint Creek, Texas. This ranch—which the Perry family leased in 1983, again in the 90s, and as late as 2007—hosted many of Perry’s political associates. He invited fellow lawmakers, friends, and family to the west Texas ranch, that had a large, flat rock at its entrance with the name “Niggerhead” in large black letters.

When asked about the ranch’s name, Perry insists his family painted over “the offensive word.” Perry told the Washington Post: “My mother and father went to the lease and painted the rock in either 1983 or 1984,” Perry wrote. “This occurred after I paid a visit to the property with a friend and saw the rock with the offensive word. After my visit I called my folks and mentioned it to them, and they painted it over during their next visit.”

However, several witnesses the Washington Post spoke to claim the name, “Niggerhead,” was visible throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, and one worker claims he saw it painted on the rock at the entrance as late as 2008.

While the name of the ranch is certainly offensive (and should have been changed years go), apparently, racially charged names like “Niggerhead,” and “Nigger Creek” still pepper the South today. The Washington Post reports that in 1962, more than a hundred geographical names containing the word “Nigger” was changed to “Negro,” and more recently, the Texas NAACP has been lobbing for years to have names such as “Niggerhead Hill” changed, but have been met with resistance from private landowners.

So, is this a deathblow to Perry’s campaign or another mild bump in the road?

Predictably, Perry’s opponents, including African-American Republican candidate Herman Cain, has pounced on this story. Cain called the ranch’s name “insensitive” and said there “isn’t a more vile, negative word than the N-word, and for him to leave it there as long as he did, until before, I hear, they finally painted over it, is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.”

How this latest gaffe affects Perry’s campaign remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: The election season is in full swing, and it’s going to get ugly.

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