Las Vegas, Nev. (CBS LAS VEGAS) — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. criticized the federal government’s handling of the Nevada ranch standoff, noting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should not be labeling Cliven Bundy’s supporters “domestic terrorists” because it only serves to incite more conflict instead of a peaceful solution.
Speaking with Fox News, the Kentucky Republican said that while the Bundy “cattle battle” does pose legitimate constitutional questions, he said that Reid and other Washington officials should not be inflaming tensions because they know nothing about ranching or grazing of cattle.
“I don’t think calling people names is going to calm this down,” Paul told Fox News. “I think it’s liable to stir it up. So I think all parties, including Senator Reid, should calm the rhetoric a little bit. Let’s try to have a peaceful resolution to this.”
Paul added: “This is a real … intellectual and constitutional and legal debate, but it shouldn’t be about violence of arms, and I hope that the government will not be there in full arms and provoke a showdown and something terrible will happen. I hope that doesn’t happen.”
Paul said that federal officials should not be quick to blast Bundy’s claim that the Bureau of Land Management has no claim to the land because his family has lived on the property since before the creation of the government agency.
The potential 2016 presidential candidate continued, “Nobody in Washington really knows anything about ranching or grazing of cattle or the long history that’s gone on with this.”
This comes after Reid blasted the supporters of Bundy’s Nevada ranch, labeling them “domestic terrorists.”
“These people, who hold themselves out to be patriots are not. They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said Thursday at an event hosted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Reid said that he had spoken with Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director James Comey, and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in plans to address the conflict.
“Keep in mind what happened up there. There were hundreds, hundreds of people from around the country, that came there,” Reid said. “They had sniper rifles on the freeway. They had assault weapons. They had automatic weapons.”
Reid said that Bundy himself “does not recognize the United States,” claiming that “he doesn’t pay his taxes” and “doesn’t follow the law” like other Nevada ranchers.
Bundy refuted Reid’s claims on KXNT Thursday.
“He’s totally wrong,” Bundy told KXNT. “I pay taxes, we’ve always paid taxes.”
Speaking on to Fox News last week, leading libertarian and Rand’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul, said that he is glad the Bureau of Land Management stood down from the cattle showdown with rancher Cliven Bundy – but continued land battles are on the horizon.
“I’m hoping this is a very positive of things to come, where the people stand up and object to the federal government’s intrusion into our lives and everything that we do,” Paul told Fox News. “And when the people do get together and stand up, if think the governments will be forced to back down. But the other thing is governments don’t give up their power easily and they may well come back with a lot more force, like they did at Waco with the Davidians.”
Paul said that although the battles between government officials and private citizens will not let up, he was supportive of the government’s non-violent stand-down this weekend.
“So I don’t know which way it’s going, but so far so good. I was delighted that they got through those couple days and there wasn’t any shooting or killing. I really encourage the demonstration against unfairness by our government, but I’d like to see it all nonviolent and that weekend so far turned out to be a good step.”