Conservatives Hold Firm To Bundy’s Cause Despite Racist Remarks: It’s Not About Him

After building himself up as a symbol of the anti-government sentiment that burns hot among conservatives, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy took things to another level: He wondered aloud whether blacks had been “better off as slaves.”

And almost immediately, conservatives started hedging. They argued that the showdown was never really about Bundy. His racial sentiments were immaterial to his standoff with the federal government. Government overreach was still the issue here.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) didn’t even bother to denounce Bundy’s remarks when given the opportunity Thursday morning. He had previously appeared to side with Bundy, laying the blame for any potential bloodshed on federal officials.

“I don’t know what he said, but the fact is Clyde (sic) Bundy is a side issue here compared to what we’re looking at in the state of Texas,” Perry said on CBS’s This Morning. “He is an individual. Deal with his issues as you may.”

“What we have in the state of Texas … the federal government is coming in and attempting from our perspective to take over private property,” he continued.

Perry was joined by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), who is running to replace him as governor. Abbott is feuding with the Bureau of Land Management over alleged planned land grabs in Texas.

Though Abbott’s battle with the BLM ignited as media coverage of the Bundy standoff was at its peak, his spokesperson insisted that his concern “was regarding a dispute in Texas and is in no way related to the dispute in Nevada.”

National Review Online correspondent Kevin Williamson told TPM that while Bundy’s racial views were “lamentable,” they were also “separate” from his battle with the federal government.

“Mr. Bundy’s racial rhetoric is lamentable and backward,” Williamson said in an email. “It is also separate from the fundamental question here, which is the federal government’s acting as an absentee landlord for nine-tenths of the state of Nevada.

Conservative pundit Dana Loesch took the same tack.

“If Bundy is a racist, that is awful, but what exactly does that have to do with the BLM?” she wrote in a blog post. “I’ve been saying for weeks that this isn’t about one rancher. It’s about government overreach.”

Ben Shapiro, editor-at-large for Breitbart News, echoed that position.

Watch the video of Bundy’s remarks:

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