Rancher Cliven Bundy says people supporting him against attempts by the Bureau of Land Management to take over land he is using to graze cattle are not "domestic terrorists" as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called them.
"We're definitely citizens riled up. I don't know whether you could call us terrorists," he said Thursday on Fox News Channel's "Hannity."
"They're the most loving people here I've ever met in my life."
According the Las Vegas Review-Journal
, Reid made the statement at the newspapers' "Hashtags & Headlines" event on Thursday.
"Those people who hold themselves out to be patriots are not. They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists," he said. "I repeat: What went on up there was domestic terrorism."
Supporters, including militia groups, showed up to support Bundy when the BLM moved in to take cattle from a grazing area his family has used since the 1870s. Some of them were shown on television with guns.
The BLM backed down on Saturday after a tense standoff and returned cattle it already had seized. Bundy says he has grazing rights to the land, but has refused to pay fees for the past 20 years because he does not recognize the federal government's right to the land. He has said he will pay state authorities.
Bundy said Reid's comments might spur even more people to support him
. Fox News earlier reported that one of Bundy's supporters said the government was planning to return in a "midnight raid"
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has spoken in Bundy's favor, told "Hannity" guest host Eric Bolling that "calmer heads" should prevail, and name-calling on both sides should cease to avoid violence.
One of the reasons given for getting Bundy off the land has been concern for a protected tortoise. Paul said legislation he introduced last year could help in Bundy's case. The bill would give states, such as Nevada, more power over federal land and the Endangered Species Act.
"We should ask Sen. Reid if he'll let me have a vote on it," Paul said.
"They say that Mr. Bundy owes some back fees. If he pays his fees will they let him graze his 900 head of cattle?" Paul asked. "My understanding is … no matter what he pays, they're not going to let him graze his cattle anymore."
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