There are reasons Rick Perry has slid to the back of the pack after coming out of the gate at the front of the Republican presidential nomination race shortly after declaring his candidacy: lackluster performances in three consecutive televised GOP debates; and a racial storm cloud hovering above his meticulously manicured coif.

First, there is the report of Perry, R-Texas, once the leading Republican presidential candidate, who began hosting fellow lawmakers, friends and supporters at the ultra-exclusive camp on an annual basis called “N—–head,” during the infancy of his political career, as The Washington Post reported.

The story alone is enough to give minorities and forward-thinking Americans pause.

If you believe Perry, who said that his father painted over the inflammatory name soon after he began leasing the property in the early 1980s, the explanation he proffered to the media is, at least, slightly questionable and perhaps even implausible. One thought that might pop into your brain is: Why didn’t they just either turn the rock over or crumble it or even remove the rock altogether? According to reports, the word was still visible even after the first coat of paint was applied.

But even if you get past that stink bomb, your brain yanks you back to another story two months ago. That was when Perry reportedly was attending a “Call to Action” retreat in August that was being co-hosted by evangelical Christian David Barton, who said that Martin Luther King Jr. did not deserve to have a monument erected on the National Mall in his honor. Ironically and coincidentally, the Call to Action retreat was being held on the same weekend that the King Memorial was going to be officially dedicated by President Obama and a phalanx of celebrities and dignitaries (which, of course, was postponed due to Hurricane Irene).

To have the issue raised once can be easily and dismissively attributed to faulty reporting or irresponsible journalism. But when the issue of Perry and race keeps popping up at regular intervals, folks are going to start looking askance at the governor.

It is unfortunate for the Perry camp because, just a month ago, he seemed like the one attractive figure the Republican Party was proud to take to the presidential prom. And now it’s looking more and more like the only other dates available are the unwanted leftovers — the respected but unelectable (or so they say) businessman Herman Cain, and they guy they really don’t want to hold hands with, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.

terry shropshire

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