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Nevada rancher defends remarks, loses supporters

By Michelle Rindels

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A Nevada rancher who became a conservative folk hero for standing up to the government in a fight over grazing rights lost some of his staunch defenders Thursday after wondering aloud whether blacks might have had it better under slavery.

Republican politicians from around the country who have rallied to Cliven Bundy's defense in recent weeks denounced the comments and distanced themselves from the rancher, including potential 2016 presidential contender Sen. Rand Paul and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller. Democrats were quick to pounce on the comments and label Bundy a racist.

Bundy has gone from a little-known rancher and melon farmer in rural Nevada to a national political star since he resisted the federal government's attempts to round up his cattle from federal land because he hadn't paid grazing fees for two decades. His supporters, especially those on the right, have praised him for standing up to what they believe is a heavy-handed federal government, and several armed militia members traveled to his ranch to back Bundy.

Cliven Bundy's Controversial Comments

His comments were first published in The New York Times on Wednesday, but he did little to tamp down the controversy as he sought to address the public outrage on Thursday.

Bundy was quoted in a Times story referring to black people as "the Negro" and recalling a time decades ago when he drove past homes in North Las Vegas and saw black people who "didn't have nothing to do." He said he wondered if they were "better off as slaves" than "under government subsidy."

On Thursday during an outdoor news conference near his ranch 80 miles from Las Vegas, he echoed the same sentiment: "Are they slaves to charities and government subsidized homes? And are they slaves when their daughters are having abortions and their sons are in the prisons? This thought goes back a long time."

A statement on the official Bundy Ranch Facebook page Thursday said that Bundy was a "good man, he loves all people, he is not a racist man." Bundy explained that he wasn't saying anyone should be enslaved today.

Politicians who had defended Bundy quickly issued statements condemning the remarks.

"His remarks on race are offensive, and I wholeheartedly disagree with him," said Paul, a Kentucky senator.

Heller, who last week called Bundy defenders "patriots" for their stand against the government, "completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy's appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way," said his spokeswoman, Chandler Smith.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat who last week called Bundy supporters "domestic terrorists," also spoke out against Bundy's words.

"Today, Bundy revealed himself to be a hateful racist," Reid said. "But by denigrating people who work hard and play by the rules while he mooches off public land, he also revealed himself to be a hypocrite."

Bundy says he doesn't recognize federal authority over lands around his property that his cattle have grazed on for years.

The Bureau of Land Management claims the cattle are trespassing on fragile Gold Butte habitat set aside for the endangered desert tortoise, and that Bundy has racked up some $1.1 million in fees and penalties since 1993.

Supporters rushed to Bundy's ranch after a YouTube video showed federal agents using a stun gun on Bundy's son during a BLM roundup of the family's cattle. The resulting armed standoff became so tense that BLM agents and contractors called off the weeklong roundup, released about 350 animals back to Bundy, and left the area April 12.

Federal officials have said the agency would pursue unspecified administrative and judicial remedies, but BLM officials have not provided details.

Join the discussion

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sigmetsue April 24 2014 at 7:33 PM

People like Bundy and his supporters should not be waving the American flag around because their views are un-American. These people are not patriots. They are all about getting what they're entitled to get because they say so and condemning everyone who is not like them.

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2 replies
cashwellrp sigmetsue April 24 2014 at 7:47 PM

You mean "In your opinion". Other wise your statements make you as bad as what you say Bundy and his supporters are. In other words, who voted you the supreme being?

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luckiegal51 sigmetsue April 25 2014 at 9:43 AM

Exactly, my sentiments.

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airforcecct April 24 2014 at 7:35 PM

"Patriot" my ass!! This guy is nothing more than a "Grifter". "

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PSYCHiATRY is a SCAM April 24 2014 at 7:35 PM

stupid cracker days are numbered , same fate as the other neanderthals

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1 reply
exhohunter PSYCHiATRY is a SCAM April 24 2014 at 7:41 PM

Neanderthals were actually a very advanced civilization for their time in prehistory. I wouldn't insult them by comparing them to this thing.

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Vianna April 24 2014 at 7:35 PM

Although HEALTHY race relations are still a work-in-progress in 2014, all Mr. Bunch would need to do is step out of his circle of friends, environment, etc. and listen to some FACTS to know that "blacks" are indeed doing better than in "slavery times" where there are opportunities, education, and degree attainment. Good grief...

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1 reply
Jon Vianna April 24 2014 at 7:46 PM

Being " owned " by the govenment is better off? They owe the libs thier votes, which takes away thier dignity. Welfare sucks.

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1 reply
Ms. Woods Jon April 25 2014 at 12:09 PM

Im not owned by anyone, and Im not on Welfare (percentage of whites to blacks on welfare whites have a high number) . That's all the libs want is our vote, but they won't ever get it, they won't get the Blue, green, yellow vote either, so keep on trying to suppress the vote!

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Sieben April 24 2014 at 7:36 PM

Make him pay "NOW " as for the militia,deal with the once and for all . If they want to defy and threaten Federal authority ,take the appropriate action

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1 reply
KeyLemPi Sieben April 24 2014 at 7:43 PM

Washington would have cut the entire militia down and he is still considered a national hero. I say do what George would have done! Or, since this guy's just gonna eventually take the cattle to the meat packing facility, just poison the cows so he can't take a profit. Not a real good option, I'd hate to see the cows suffer either way.

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billlonz April 24 2014 at 7:36 PM

Bundy, owes money, he's a good businessman. But just a dumb or smart ass. Pay your bill Cliven. Nevada is a State run by a dumber ass. Hey everybody try not paying your rent

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Lobocoyote April 24 2014 at 7:41 PM

The man has his right to make a opinion yes the welfare system is lacks but his statement regarding race is not approriate. Anyway lets get down to the facts not the news but hard facts about his cattle grazing and the real reson the gov't wanted our land back. What ever he is liable to all of us through the state or Federal government for some fee. If not let horses and other animals roam there free for all to enjoy!

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1 reply
liptonsmom Lobocoyote April 24 2014 at 7:52 PM

Harry Reids son works for a chinese firm that wants to construct a solar farm on that property. Hm. do you think that may be reason enough for this foolishness? Methinks so.

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buckeye3118 April 24 2014 at 7:41 PM

If the Feds had just slapped a lien on his property for the rent he owes on the grazing land, this would have been a 'non-story'. Sending in armed Federal marshals was a waste of tax dollars, and nearly made this clown a folk hero for the whack jobs. It's all about the money he owes, and a million dollars plus penalties and interest adds up quick.

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1 reply
Ms. Woods buckeye3118 April 25 2014 at 12:46 PM


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Ramon the man April 24 2014 at 7:49 PM

This man is an out law, that represent all that is to the far-right. He feel as though he is entitled to be on his own welfare system by not paying what he owes. I always find it difficult to understand folks like him making statement about race, when it is obvious that he is colored blind.

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ddddlll36 April 24 2014 at 7:49 PM

They are nothing but a bunch of Racists, typical republican! If he had been a Black Man they would have killed him and his family! No way the Gov would have back down.

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