(CNN) - In a blunt exchange that hit on a major American divide, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, stood by his comments that militia groups involved in a ranch standoff are “domestic terrorists,” while the state’s Republican senator, Dean Heller, replied that he considers them “patriots.”
The two men appeared Friday afternoon on KSNV’s “What’s Your Point?” question-and-answer show.
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The first question went to Reid, about his comments that a few hundred people protesting and blocking federal action against rancher Cliven Bundy are “domestic terrorists.”
“What did you mean by that?” co-host Amy Tarkanian asked.
“Just what I said,” Reid responded.
The Democrat later clarified that he was not talking about Bundy himself necessarily, but about outside individuals who traveled to the area in the recent days.
The standoff on the dusty Nevada land has been building for decades, as the federal government has worked to block Bundy’s cattle from grazing on public land. The family has raised cattle in the area for generations, but 20 years ago the land they used was declared off limits in order to protect a desert tortoise.
Related: What made Nevada rancher fight the feds?
Bundy has continued grazing anyway, insisting he is within his rights. Last week the issue hit a new hot point when hundreds of self-described militia groups came to Bundy’s land to protest federal action and help him defend his grazing ability.
That’s who Reid described as “domestic terrorists”.
“600 people came armed, they had practiced, they had maneuvered… they set up snipers in strategic locations… they had automatic weapon,” the leading Democrat said Friday. “And they boasted about the fact they put women and children… so they would get hit first.”
“If there were ever an example of people who were domestic violent terrorist wannabes, these are the guys,” Reid concluded.
Heller, sitting inches away from Reid in the television studio, rejected the thought. “What Senator Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots,” he said.
Reid interrupted. “These people think they’re patriots, they’re not,” the majority leader insisted. “If they’re patriots, we’re in very big trouble.”
His Republican colleague jumped back in. “Well, it’s a pretty broad brush,” Heller responded. “You have Boy Scouts out there. You have veterans at the event, you have grandparents at the event. As long as they’re not promoting violence…”
“Promoting violence?” Reid asked. “Sniper rifles…. Grandmothers? Boy Scouts? I hope not.”
The Silver State’s two U.S. senators never raised their voices and the dispute kept a respectful tone. But the disagreement fell across sharp philosophical lines that have defined some of the most passionate feelings in modern American politics. Are militia and anti-government groups a threat to American life? Or is the federal government the problem?
Reid insisted it was the former, that protestors at the ranch were threatening U.S. government workers. And he described ranch owner Bundy as a man who hasn’t paid his taxes and sees Washington as a foreign power.
Heller spoke of the situation as a rancher trying to survive government regulation and facing an “army” sent in by the United States to dislodge his cattle.
“There was no army,” Reid responded.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the primary agency involved, has not indicated what its next move will be in the standoff.
Thank goodness they people came. An individual can't protect himself against the government. An as of late, we have to protect ourselves. If anyone is a domestic terrorist, it's Harry Reid and his gang. If Reid is so big on enforcing our laws, why isn't he yelling about Obama and Holder etc? The view the law as " advisory". Reid is nothing more than a two faced punk that has no business in public office.
Good old Harry, ever the one to take the high road.......not. Maybe he can be a "greeter" at one of the Vegas casinos when they finally drum him out of Washington.
You wanna talk domestic terrorist, lets talk Yucca Mountain Reid.
Mr Reid keeps saying that Mr Bundy has not paid his taxes. Mr Bundy claims that this assertion is not true, that he has paid his taxes. Why do you not question Mr Reid where he got his idea that Mr Bundy has not paid his taxes. Or is this another calculated lie by Mr Reid designed to make the rancher seem more extreme in his views against the government. Also, Mr Reid said that rancher Bundy claimed that the US is a foreign power. This also is not true. Mr Bundy's problem is with wether the a fed agency has the authority to do what they are doing to ranchers. Maybe CNN should do some actual investigative journalism. Instead, you choose only to allow Mr Reid another platform for spewing his lies.
Love how you left Heller then stated how BLM showed up armed and attacking the crowd with tasers. Harry Reid owns the media and they don't realize how much he has corrupted the State of Nevada. People showed up with a militia because the Federal Government showed up with one.
--Republican only outcry is
-–Obama is bad
This is pretty much worn-out record. They know people are NOT giving darn hoot at these rants while ACA Law numbers are way up covering millions.
HARRY REID never mentioned the militia groups. He said those people who showed up to support Bundy were Domestic Terrorist. Most of these people were unarmed men, women and child....... So Harry ....Are those people who march to support Illegal aliens domestic terrorist also. JUST ASKING HARRY.......
Reid is right... The Bundy Ranch people, Occupy Wall Street, Code Pink, Million Man March, Kent State, All acts of Terror....
It would appear Harry is senile. He should retire.
Anybody whom would vote for and support a criminal like Harry Reid are fundamentally dishonest people.
Why would the blm have tanks and snipers?
The federal government will win this fight without firing a shot. They will place a lien on his property. When he takes his cattle to market the check will be given to the US Treasury. Then he can apply to the government that he hates for food stamps.
Reid is a sellout to the current administration and the DNC, He doesn't care about the people who elected him. Maybe he should spend more time in Nevada instead of Washington.
Nothing wrong with a little reality to fly in the face in hyper-political ignorance. There is a difference between being patriotic and taking up arms to show the government...you know how to hold a gun (I guess). In a modern, civilized society, anyone who does this for actual tyranny should be seen as a patriot and a hero but anyone who does it over a land management dispute is just a loud idiot with a gun...like most terrorists and terrorists-minded people. I applaud Harry Reid for being an actual Democrat, holding firm and not just playing nice to appeal to the idiots.