Cliven Bundy has given Democrats a golden opportunity to attack Republicans with his racist comments, Sean Hannity, the Nevada rancher's most visible media backer, claimed Thursday.
Bundy's views are "repugnant," Hannity said, and they give ammunition to those who try to label all Republicans racists.
Hannity's comments came as Bundy, 67, doubled down on his comments on radio. He told The Peter Schiff Show he was "wondering" if blacks are better off now than they were under slavery.
"I said I'm wondering if they're better off under government subsidy and the young women are having abortions, their young men are in jail and their older women and children are sitting out on the cement porch without nothing to do," Bundy told Schiff.
"I'm wondering are they happier now under this government subsidy system than they were when they were slaves and they were able to have their family structure together and chickens and doggies and the people have something to do.
"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 subsidy."
Hannity has given heavy coverage to Bundy on his Fox News Channel and syndicated radio shows — so much so that critics, including Jon Stewart
, have accused him of backing Bundy's anti-federal government rhetoric and actions.
But Hannity has denied that, and said Thursday he was "pissed off" at Bundy's latest comments to supporters that were quoted in The New York Times
Hannity attacked Bundy's remarks at his first opportunity. "His comments are beyond repugnant to me," he said on his radio show, Thursday. "They are beyond despicable to me. They are beyond ignorant to me."
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Hannity compared Bundy to former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, who in his 2012 race for U.S. Senate said women's bodies reject a pregnancy caused by "legitimate rape."
Bundy's comments, too, will be fuel for Democrats, Hannity said, pointing to New York Democratic Rep. Steve Israel who recently said the GOP's base is "animated by racism
"Every conservative that I know does not support racism, period," Hannity told his audience.
He said the left has its own share of racists who "get a pass." But he added that, unlike left-wing hypocrites, "I find it repugnant whoever it comes from."
Later, during an appearance on CNN, host Bill Weir asked Bundy how it felt to be be "abandoned by your friends on Fox?"
"I don't think I've been abandoned. I think maybe they just misunderstood me a little bit," Bundy replied. "But I think Fox and I, I think Hannity and I are just right on. I have no doubt he would re-support me if he understood really what's in my heart, and I think he does understand me."
Hannity joins a slew of Republican leaders who on Thursday started backing away from their support of Bundy due to his racist comments.
Nevada's Republican Sen. Dean Heller had previously claimed that Bundy's supporters were "patriots," but following Bundy's hateful remarks he's started to "backtrack," according to Rawstory.com
Heller's spokesman, Chandler Smith, told the Times that the senator "completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy's appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way."
Sen. Rand Paul, the libertarian Republican from Kentucky who may make a run for the White House in 2016, had supported Bundy's cattle battle with the government.
But in a statement provided by a spokesman for Paul to Business Insider
on Thursday, the senator denounced Bundy's comments. "His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him," Paul said.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott had jumped into the controversy by stating that the BLM was planning to claim thousands of acres in the Lone Star State along the Red River, and he had made it clear that he had told the agency to back off.
But his spokeswoman Laura Bean tried to distance the Republican gubernatorial candidate from Bundy by telling the liberal newspaper that the letter Abbott wrote to the BLM "was regarding a dispute in Texas and is in no way related to the dispute in Nevada."
Bundy first attacked African Americans in comments to supporters reported by the Times. "Because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. "They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton.
"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."
The father-of-14 recalled driving past a public housing project in North Las Vegas. "I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro," he said. " 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."
Former GOP congressman Joe Scarborough, who has criticized Bundy before, said on his MSNBC show "Morning Joe," that conservatives who ran to support Bundy were now "exposed" in light of the Nevada rancher's remarks.
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"In this case you have a lot of people in 'conservative' media that have . . . raced to this guy's defense. They must be feeling very exposed this morning," Scarborough said Thursday.
Scarborough questioned how Bundy, who hadn't paid grazing fees the federal government said he owes, was any different from people on other types of welfare. He said Bundy "wanted a free ride off the government off the rest of us."
"He's a freeloader. And, by the way, when you say everybody owns everything . . . that sounds like socialism. That's socialism," Scarborough said.
Nevada's Democratic senator, Majority Leader Harry Reid, made hay with news of Bundy's comments. " "I used to live in North Las Vegas and it is home to some of the hardest-working people I have ever met — men and women who embody the American dream by working hard every day to build a better life for themselves and their families," he said in a statement.
"By contrast, Cliven Bundy has spent decades profiting off government land while refusing to pay the same fair use fees as his fellow ranchers. Today, Bundy revealed himself to be a hateful racist. But by denigrating people who work hard and play by the rules while he mooches off public land he also revealed himself to be a hypocrite."
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