Black Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain and Rev. Al Sharpton zeroed in on Gov. Rick Perry Oct. 2 after the use of the N-word surfaced in connection with property leased for hunting by the Perry family since 1983.

The use of a racial slur to label a hunting ranch frequented by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his father is turning the race for the Republican presidential nomination into a racial battlefield.

The word, in large block letters, had been painted on a rock slab standing upright at the entrance to the 42,000-acre Throckmorton ranch northwest of Fort Worth, Texas in a region regarded by Blacks as racially hostile because of stories about a lynching there, the Washington Post quoted locals. The 2010 Census indicated 11 Blacks existed out of 3,600 residents in Throckmorton County, where most of the ranch is located.

Cain slammed the leading contender for the GOP presidential for being insensitive to Blacks. There “isn’t 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 over it, is just plain insensitive to a lot of Black people in this country,” Cain said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The word on the rock —“N—head”—had been painted over, but when such was actually painted-over is in dispute. Perry communications director Ray Sullivan told MSNBC that the word had been painted-over in the early 1980s. However, the Post said it was obscured only more recently. The property is owned by The Hendrick Home for Children of Abilene, a center for abused children. Hendrick CEO David Miller refused to comment, the Post said.

On Oct. 2 in remarks to Politico, Sharpton promised to use his MSNBC show Politics Nation to turn up the heat surrounding the use of the N-word to label hunting property used by Perry that was legible and visible as recently as this summer, according to the Washington Post.

“At worst, he either thought it was something he could identify with and even have some bit of irony,” Sharpton said.

“At best, he’s insensitive. How can someone who would seek the highest office in the land be so insensitive to the implications of that name?”

Perry’s campaign rebuttal to Cain’s remarks and assertions of racial insensitivity surfaced quickly after the Post story was published Oct. 2. “Mr. Cain is wrong about the Perry family’s quick action to eliminate the word on the rock.”