Embattled Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy on Friday attempted to move past his comments about slavery and African-Americans and refocus his message on his debate over land rights.
Bundy attracted media attention for his standoff with the Bureau of Land Management over cattle grazing on federal land and his refusal to pay $1 million in grazing fees the government says he owes.
The comments, which were posted on the website Bambuser and also quoted in an article by the New York Times, ignited a firestorm.
The Times quoted Bundy as saying, while relating a story about a drive through North Las Vegas, "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."
Bundy and his supporters spent much of Thursday trying to explain the comments.
Bundy explained that he was only wondering whether African-Americans are better off today than during slavery, not that they should be enslaved, when he made the comments that were quoted in the Times.
"I'm wondering, are they better off with their young women aborting their children?" Bundy said. "Are they better off with their young men in prison? Are they better off with the older people on the sidewalks in front of their government-issued homes with a few children. Are they better off? Are they happier than they were when they were in the South, in front of their homes with their chickens and their gardens, and their children around them and their man having something to do?"
"Cliven, bless his heart, can't articulate on the radio or the TV what he means in his heart, and what he means in his heart was nothing like what came out and what was reported on," said Steve Stoddard, Bundy's daughter-in-law's father.
On Friday, Bundy again took to the podium at his Bunkerville ranch and apologized to anyone who he offended with his comments.
"I think the media knew better," Bundy said. "I hope I didn't offend anybody. If I did, I ask for their forgiveness." He continued, "I can't see color. Everybody looks the same to me."
Bundy then talked about the central issue that began the standoff with the BLM, saying he would pay the grazing fees to the proper government, which he believes is the state of Nevada.
At the end of the press conference, Bundy circled back to his colorblind views.
"We're all God's children," Bundy said.
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