Republican Candidates Tread Carefully to Oregon Protest Standoff

A member of an armed antigovernment protest group walked down a road on Monday at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters near Burns, Ore.

By Alan Rappeport – – – –

The Republican Party is one that espouses the virtues of limited government, but this year’s group of presidential candidates is treading carefully as astandoff between authorities and armed antigovernment protesters in Oregon drags on.

While some Republicans were supportive of the plight of Cliven Bundy’s clash with the government in 2014 over the use of federal lands, most presidential candidates are siding with law and order this time around. But they are doing so with varying degrees of empathy about the cause of the armed protesters, who took over a remote wildlife refuge over the prosecution of two ranchers.

A roundup of what they have had to say:

Senator Marco Rubio: “You can’t be lawless,” Mr. Rubio told KBUR radio. “We live in a republic. There are ways to change the laws of this country and the policies. If we get frustrated with it, that’s why we have elections.”

Senator Ted Cruz: “Every one of us has the constitutional right to protest and speak our minds. But we don’t have a constitutional right to use force and violence and to threaten force and violence on others.”

Senator Rand Paul: “I’m sympathetic to the idea that the large collection of federal lands ought to be turned back to the states and the people, but I think the best way to bring about change is through politics,” Mr. Paul told The Washington Post. “That’s why I entered the electoral arena. I don’t support any violence or suggestion of violence toward changing policy.”

Former Senator Rick Santorum: “I certainly don’t like the tactics they are using,” Mr. Santorum told CNN. “We have room for protesters and we have room for people exercise their rights, at the same time there are consequences that have to be paid for people who do break the law.”

Gov. Chris Christie: “There has to be an appropriate mix of firmness in terms of the enforcement of the law and care to make sure that you do not unduly put human life at risk.In the end the job of law enforcement is to enforce the law.”

Ben Carson: “I would think that we should try to look at things from both perspectives. Why, in fact, do these ranchers feel that way? Let’s hear their grievances. I don’t condone them taking over, you know, a federal building. You know, we have better ways of expressing our displeasure than that.”

Gov. John Kasich: “I haven’t heard about this,” Mr. Kasich said in aninterview with The Des Moines Register on Monday. “When did this come out?”

 

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