Nevada rancher losing Arizona allies after slavery comments

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Arizona-based allies of controversial Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy are distancing themselves from him, following what many consider to be racist comments.

The rancher was caught on camera sharing his thoughts about driving past a Las Vegas housing project.

"They didn't have nothin' to do. They didn't have nothin' for their kids to do," Bundy said of the black families he saw.

"They were basically on government subsidy. So now what do they do? They abort their young children. They put their young men in jail because they never learned how to pick cotton," Bundy continued. "I've often wondered, 'Were they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things? Or are they better off as government subsidy?' "

Several Arizona lawmakers recently drove up to the Bundy ranch in Nevada to stand in solidarity with crowds protesting the government's seizure of cattle. The Bureau of Land Management says Bundy owes $1 million in past grazing fees, which he has refused to pay.

Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, said she went to the ranch hoping to keep the situation from turning violent.

She said she never met Bundy but was disappointed with his thoughts on slavery.

"I think that these are words used by a man from a generation that used those words and it's very unfortunate," Townsend told 3TV. "He said something in a manner that set us back, that reopened old wounds."

Her colleagues from the Arizona State Legislature, Republican Representatives Bob Thorpe and David Livingston, also traveled to the ranch and have condemned Bundy's racial comments.

Congressman Paul Gosar, who has supported Bundy, did not return a request for comment on the issue.

Bundy, in follow-up interviews, reaffirmed his beliefs that black families had better family structure and were happier as slaves.

Still, he insists his comments are born out of sympathy and not racism.