Republican candidates, seeking to keep their names in the news for the hotly contested 2016 presidential nod, remained surprisingly quiet on Sunday night, failing to comment on the militia takeover of a wildlife refuge in Burns, Oregon, reports the Washington Post.
While the concerns of the armed followers of Ammon Bundy at the occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge– a return to Constitutional principles, government agency overreach — coincide with many of the populist statements made by the GOP contenders, no candidate has yet to step forward and support or condemn the takeover.
Businessman and GOP front runner Donald Trump, the most vocal and unfiltered of all the candidates, has yet to comment about Oregon on his favorite forum — Twitter — and did not mention the topic during an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Monday morning.
The Trump campaign’s failure to comment is heightened by the fact that a co-chair of the Trump for President Veteran’s Coalition, Jerry Delemus, took part in the Nevada Bundy ranch stand-off, and has expressed support for the Oregon ranchers at the center of the dispute.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose campaign mixes populism with evangelism, has also failed to make any mention of the standoff that grew out of the case of Oregon ranchers Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son Steven Hammond, 46, who were convicted of arson in 2012 and are scheduled to report to federal prison Monday.
Likewise, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul who met with Bundy’s father, Cliven, for a private chat in July after the elder Bundy led an armed standoff against federal law enforcement officials on his Nevada ranch has refused comment.
Commenting on his private talk with Paul, Cliven Bundy claimed, “He said, ‘One of your biggest problems is getting Nevada to recognize its sovereignty and to stand up for its sovereignty.’ He said he would turn over the jurisdiction authority and allow the state of Nevada to act like a sovereign state. He said it would be up to we the people to govern ourselves.”
While the concerns of the Malheur bird sanctuary occupiers are similar — taking back federal land and returning it to “the people” — Paul has yet to make a statement of support for the group to help his flagging campaign.
In fact, the only comment to come out of any of the GOP presidential contender’s campaigns came from John Weaver, a senior strategist for the campaign of Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Weaver tweeted on Sunday: “I know a good federal compound for Bundy and his gang: a U.S. penitentiary.”