Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday that Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is a "hateful racist," after Bundy questioned whether black people may have been better off as slaves.
"Bundy revealed himself to be a hateful racist," said Reid, who also called on GOP leaders to denounce the rancher. "For their part, national Republican leaders could help show a united front against this kind of hateful, dangerous extremism by publicly condemning Bundy."
Reid also accused Bundy of hypocrisy by accusing people of living off government subsidies, when Bundy himself has refused to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in grazing fees that he owes the government.
"Cliven Bundy has spent decades profiting off government land while refusing to pay the same fair use fees as his fellow ranchers," Reid said. "[B]y denigrating people who work hard and play by the rules while he mooches off public land he also revealed himself to be a hypocrite."
The New York Times reported late Wednesday that Bundy referred to black people as "the Negro" and questioning whether they were better off as slaves.
"They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton," Bundy said of black people, according to the Times. "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."
Reid said the possibility of armed conflict between the government and Bundy supporters is putting lives at risk.
"To advance his extreme, hateful views, Bundy has endangered the lives of innocent women and children. This is not a game," Reid said. "It is the height of irresponsibility for any individual or entity in a position of power or influence to glorify or romanticize such a dangerous individual, and anyone who has done so should come to their senses and immediately condemn Bundy."