(BUNKERVILLE, Nev.) — Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has gone from folk hero to pariah after making incendiary comments about how African-Americans might have fared better under slavery.
Bundy was recently involved in a standoff with the federal government about grazing rights for his cattle when the Bureau of Land Management abruptly backed off after Bundy’s supporters gathered en masse, some of them armed.
While some Republicans and conservative commentators hopped on Bundy’s bandwagon, many now seem to be jumping off after Bundy made observations to supporters last weekend that were reported by The New York Times about blacks he remembered seeing outside a North Las Vegas housing project.
Referring to African-Americans as “the Negro,” Bundy was recorded as saying, “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?”
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, one of Bundy’s supporters, said the rancher’s “remarks on race are offensive, and I wholeheartedly disagree with him.”
A spokesman for Republican Nevada Senator Dean Heller, added that the lawmaker, “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.”
The Nevada Democratic Party also issued its own statement, denouncing anyone who came to Bundy’s defense, saying, “These comments are reprehensible, and every Republican politician in the state of Nevada who tried to latch on to Cliven Bundy’s newfound celebrity with Tea Partiers and the militia movement should be ashamed of their actions.”
Meanwhile, Ammon Bundy claimed the Times quoted his father out of context, telling WND, a conservative website, “They took what they wanted. They knew when they were there his comments were not racist. He wasn’t able to completely articulate. That’s just my dad. He is a very principled person.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Eric Bradner, CNN
Melissa Gray, CNN
Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN