Republican Presidential Hopefuls Steer Clear Of Nevada Ranch Fight

GOP presidential hopefuls are largely steering clear of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s fight with the federal government.

The showdown, which left armed militia members and feds staring each other down last week, has captivated talk radio and cable news shows, turning Bundy into a conservative cause célèbre.

Yet Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and former Arkansas Governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee are the only big-name GOP stars to have spoken out on the dispute so far.

Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been silent, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have also not commented on Bundy, who has been fighting the federal government in and out of court for more than 20 years over his refusal to pay grazing fees.

All three offices did not respond to calls for this story.

GOP strategists suggested that Bundy’s case is far too risky for most candidates eyeing the presidency, particularly given the possibility of armed conflict with federal police.

“The Republican Party’s very sympathetic to Cliven Bundy’s property rights, states’ rights argument,” said strategist Ford O’Connell, who worked on John McCain’s 2008 campaign. “But many Republicans also prize the rule of law above all else. Right or wrong, Bundy had his day in court and lost.”

Paul has a libertarian bent to his politics, and he’s repeatedly taken on issues that make the Bundy fight work better for him than others, O’Connell said.

“It fits very nicely within the ethos that Rand Paul has,” O’Connell said of the Bundy ranch fight. “But the difficulty that Paul’s going to have in terms of winning the nomination is taking that libertarian, constitutional thinking, and showing how you can govern a nation with it.”

Read more from Timothy Cama at The Hill

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