Republican politicians began backtracking on their support of Nevada anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy after the New York Times caught Bundy making racially-inflammatory remarks blaming African-Americans for willingly submiting to dependency on federal assistance.
"They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton," Bundy was quoted as saying to a group of supporters last Saturday. "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? They didn't get no more freedom. They got less freedom."
Bundy's statements about "the Negro," published on Wednesday, were made during his daily speech to supporters outside Bunkerville, Nevada, where a crowd gathered to support him in defiance of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) during an attempted round up of his cattle. The confrontation was the result of Bundy's refusal to pay grazing fees on federally-owned land for more than 20 years, in spite of multiple court rulings against him. Bundy has stated on several occasions that he does not recognize the existence of the federal government.
During the speech, Bundy said he remembered driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, which he called a "government house" with "always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch" with nothing to do.
The remarks brought about a quick rebuke from Chandler Smith, a spokesperson for Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV). Heller had previously called Bundy and his supporters "patriots" for their actions and challenged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) description of them as "domestic terrorists."
Smith told the Times that Heller "completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy's appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way."
Bundy's speech also seemingly derailed Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's (R) apparent attempt to link his gubernatorial campaign to the Bunkerville camp; Abbott had allegedly written a letter to the BLM accusing it of "threatening" to seize land along the Red River in northern Texas.
But after being contacted regarding the rancher's "Negro" remarks, a spokesperson for Abbott was quoted as saying that Abbott's letter "was regarding a dispute in Texas and is in no way related to the dispute in Nevada."