Conservatives who rushed to Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy’s side when he confronted federal authorities over land use moved on Thursday to condemn his inflammatory remarks on race, even if some of them
Below is a list of politicians and media personalities who backed Bundy during his standoff with the Bureau of Land Management along with their responses, if they have given one, to his comments on “the Negro” and government assistance, which were published by the New York Times.
U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)
What he said previously: Appearing alongside Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on KSNV-TV, Heller praised Bundy and his supporters: “What Sen. Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots.”
What he’s saying now: A spokesman for Heller told the New York Times that the senator “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.”
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
What he said previously: Earlier this month, Paul criticized the federal government on a Kentucky radio station and said he’d prefer for the dispute to be worked out in court: “The federal government shouldn’t violate the law, nor should we have 48 federal agencies carrying weapons and having SWAT teams.”
What he’s saying now: After a spokesman told the New York Times that the senator wasn’t available for comment, Paul condemned the remarks Thursday in a statement to Business Insider: “His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him.”
Fox News Host Sean Hannity
What he said previously: The Fox News host has staunchly defended Bundy and his supporters, going so far as to suggest that Sen. Harry Reid and the federal government were planning a secret raid on Bundy’s ranch. He’s also slapped down high-profile criticisms of his support for Bundy, most notably from Comedy Central comedian Jon Stewart.
What he’s saying now: “His comments are beyond repugnant to me. They are beyond despicable to me. They are beyond ignorant to me,” Hannity said during his radio show Thursday.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)
What he said previously: Perry appeared Wednesday on Fox News and suggested the federal government was instigating the conflict: “I have a problem with the federal government putting citizens in the position of having to feel like they have to use force to deal with their own government.”
What he’s saying now: Perry appeared Thursday on CBS This Morning and dodged the question: “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. He is an individual. Deal with his issues as you may.”
After Perry had a chance to read Bundy’s remarks later in the day, his spokesman told Business Insider via email that the governor “thinks they are reprehensible and disagrees with them in the strongest possible way.”
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R)
What he said previously: The gubernatorial candidate did not weigh in on the Bundy standoff specifically. However, he called attention to the BLM’s management of federal lands in Texas in a letter sent Tuesday to the director of the agency, saying he was “deeply troubled” by reports that the agency planned to “regulate the use of federal lands along a 116-mile stretch of the Red River.”
What he’s saying now: A spokeswoman for Abbott told the New York Times that Abbott’s letter to the BLM “was regarding a dispute in Texas and is in no way related to the dispute in Nevada.”
Nevada state Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R)
What she said previously: The lawmaker told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in a testy interview that she thought the federal government’s handling of the conflict with Bundy was “suspicious:” “Don’t come here with guns and expect the American people not to fire back.”
What she’s saying now: Fiore disagreed with Bundy’s comments on race in a statement that also reaffirmed her opposition to the BLM’s actions: “I strongly disagree with Cliven Bundy’s comments about slavery. Mr. Bundy has said things I don’t agree with; however, we cannot let this divert our attention from the true issue of the atrocities BLM committed by harming our public land and the animals living on it.”
Arizona state Rep. Kelly Townsend (R)
What she said previously: Townsend, who participated in a rally near the ranch earlier this month, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that video of a clash between anti-government protesters and BLM rangers disturbed her: “Watching that video last night created a visceral reaction in me. It sounds dramatic, but it reminded me of Tiananmen Square. I don’t recognize my country at this point.”
What she’s saying now: Townsend hasn’t responded to Bundy’s latest remarks. TPM has reached out to Townsend for a statement and will update when we receive a response.
Former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack
What he said previously: Mack, who helped organize the militia on Bundy’s ranch, equated the rancher and his supporters to civil rights icon Rosa Parks in recordings flagged by Right Wing Watch: “This particular peasant said, ‘No, I’m sorry, I’m not rolling over for this one. You guys are out of line, you don’t own the land, you don’t own our ranch, you don’t own us. … This was Rosa Parks refusing to get to the back of the bus.”
What he’s saying now: Mack hasn’t yet responded to Bundy’s remarks on slavery.
National Review Correspondent Kevin Williamson
What he said previously: Earlier this month, Williamson wrote that “a little sedition” à la Bundy is a good thing: “Of course the law is against Cliven Bundy. How could it be otherwise? The law was against Mohandas Gandhi, too, when he was tried for sedition.”
What he’s saying now: Williamson explained in an email to TPM that like “the men who died at the Alamo,” probably, Bundy has “repugnant” views that are distinct from the issue at hand: “Mr. Bundy’s racial rhetoric is lamentable and backward. 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
What she said previously: Loesch has written extensively in support of Bundy on her blog.
What she’s saying now: The pundit wrote in a blog post that Bundy’s comments could have been blown up because he wasn’t media trained. She also argued that “the left” was attempting to tie his anti-government activism to racism.
This post has been updated.