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Cain denies playing 'race card'

Herman Cain pushed back Monday against criticism that he had unfairly called opponent Rick Perry "insensitive" when asked about a rock displaying a racial epithet at a ranch leased by the Texas governor.

“All I said was the mere fact that that word was there was ‘insensitive,’ ” Cain said outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, N.Y., according to the National Review. “That’s not playing the race card. I am not attacking Gov. Perry. Some people in the media want to attack him. I’m done with that issue!”

Cain was in Manhattan to meet with businessman Donald Trump.

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The Washington Post reported Sunday that Perry — and his parents before him — had leased a Texas hunting ranch that at one point was known by the name "N-----head." The slur was painted on a rock on the property, which has since been painted over. Sources quoted by the Post — some of whom were anonymous — indicated that the rock had not been immediately painted over, as the Perry campaign claims.

Cain denounced the epithet during an interview Sunday, and said Perry should have painted over the rock sooner.

“My reaction is, that's just very insensitive,” Cain said on Fox News. “[There is not] a more vile negative word than the 'N word' and for him to leave it there as long as he did, before I hear that they finally painted it over is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.”

Since then, Cain has been hit in the conservative blogosphere by Republicans who believe that he played into a "hit job" by The Washington Post.

"Cain’s comments were — at best — premature — and at worst, highly irresponsible. It was a cheap shot, and, perhaps a signal that Cain is willing to play the race card against a fellow Republican when it benefits him," wrote The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis.

Cain seemed eager to put the issue behind himself Monday, asking reporters to instead ask about "what's important to the American people" rather than "beat this distraction to death about a word that appeared on a rock."

“I really don’t care about that word,” Cain said. “They painted over it. End of story! I accept Gov. Perry’s response on that.”