(CNN) – What started out as a standoff over land rights may be turning into a controversy over race.
Earlier this month Bundy appeared to win a highly publicized standoff against federal authorities over his two-decade long illegal grazing of cattle on public land.
Bundy, 67, won his standoff against federal rangers after armed militiamen came to his side.
According to a report from the New York Times, the comments that sparked the latest controversy came this weekend when Bundy recalled to supporters about a time he drove by a public-housing project in North Las Vegas.
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” Bundy said, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.
“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” Bundy continued. “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? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
According to CNN, in a radio interview on The Peter Schiff show, Bundy defended and repeated his comments but emphasized he was merely “wondering” about the idea.
“In my mind I’m wondering, are they better off being slaves, in that sense, or better off being slaves to the United States government, in the sense of the subsidies? I’m wondering. That’s what. And the statement was right. I am wondering.”
After the New York Times story went viral, the Nevada Democratic Party put out a statement 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.”
Senator Rand Paul, who originally supported Bundy’s case, issued a statement decrying Bundy’s racial comments.
Sen. Paul said, “His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him.”
While Republicans are now trying to distance themselves from Bundy, that’s not stopping Democrats from going after them for supporting Bundy in the first place.