A curious little moment during Tuesday night's often-contentious GOP presidential debate -- Rick Perry twice called Herman Cain "brother." Now there is a question of whether Perry was being racist or just friendly.
While talking about Cain's "9-9-9" tax plan, Perry said, "Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something, you don't need to have a big analysis to figure this thing out."
During the same response Perry said his will soon lay out his own tax plan and said, "I'll bump plans with you, brother."
Cain did not appear to react either time.
Coming off the controversy over whether Perry used a hunting camp called "N****rhead," Al Sharpton called the timing of Perry's new title for Cain "convenient."
"It seemed cynical to me. Perry didn't call Cain 'brother' in any of the other debates," Sharpton said, according to the New York Daily News. "It seemed to me that he was openly trying to befriend the only black man on the stage, and it was his way of trying to repair the talk about the hunting lodge."
Others, however, doubt Perry meant any offense.
"That's more of a folksy West Texas expression," said Matt Jones, political science professor at Rice University in Houston. "It's also a Southern Evangelical expression, like 'Brother, let me tell you about...' like your brothers in fellowship. Still, it was a poor choice of words."
Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan said on CNN on Wednesday, “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.”