The political ad plays out like a parody, a “Saturday Night Live” skit: two dusty cowboys standing near the barn trading country talk. But the thing is this: This pair is serious. Related story: Cliven Bundy's 'better off as slaves' remark about blacks draws fire Related story: Cliven Bundy's 'better off as slaves' remark about blacks draws fire John M. Glionna Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who challenged the Bureau of Land Management in the spring over the right to graze his cattle on public lands — and who became a brief poster boy for tea party types, until his blatant comments on race sent supporters scurrying — is back at what he does best: stirring up political hay – this time for a third-party candidate for Congress.
The gray-haired rancher plays himself in a two-minute Web video promoting Kamau Bakari, an Independent American Party candidate and African American, against Democratic Rep. Dina Titus. The ad portrays candidate and cowboy as straight talkers who don’t care what anyone thinks — even if they ruffle some feathers.
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To make his point, Bundy even resurrects some comments about African Americans and slavery that drew criticism nationwide. “I know that black folks have had a hard time with, uh, slavery,” he says at one point. “And, you know, the government was in on it.”
Reached at his ranch in rural Bunkerville, about 70 miles north of Las Vegas, Bundy told the Los Angeles Times that the Bakari campaign approached him about the ad, which was filmed about a week ago.
“We basically recited our lines, what he wanted,” Bundy said.
Bundy said he liked the idea of a frank talk about race, “so it’s an open thing.”
The ad starts with a clip of a speech given by Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., who is black, saying that when it comes to race, America “is a nation of cowards.”
Shift to Bundy and Bakari, wearing tall hats, standing in front of a white horse.
“Did he just call me a coward?” Bundy asks.
Says Bakari: “No, he just called all white folks cowards.”
“He must not know me,” Bundy replies.
Running theme in the ad is political correctness, and the men denounce it while praising those who speak their minds. Bakari presents the irascible rancher with a scenario and a question: If he were called a racist for something, would he be scared and apologize “like those billionaire ball team owners did a little while ago?”
Bundy replies that he wouldn’t and that he’s “sick and tired of people who act like that.”
Bundy adds that a man ought to be able to express himself without being called names.
And then Bakari says (seriously), “A brave white man like you might be just what we need to put an end to this political correctness stuff in America.”
The ad, which has gotten more than 50,000 hits on YouTube, is paid for by the Committee to Elect Kamau Bakari, but feels like it’s Bundy running for office, not Bakari.
Bundy now has some second thoughts about his appearance, especially the line: “It's almost like black folks think white folks owe them something.”
The rancher, who recently joined the Independent American Party, said the line was scripted and adds that he now realizes he doesn’t believe it. “I thought to myself last night, ‘Well, that was kind of a prejudiced statement,’” he said.
“I stand for more than that. I stand for the rights of the individual so it wasn’t right to profile these people. I want to be more fair than that. I really feel like everybody in that black community would have to be asked whether they think the white man owes them something.”
Which sounds suspiciously like an apology.
Still, Bundy isn’t running for any political office. At least not yet.
“If they asked me, I’d just tell them that I’m busy being a rancher and a father.”
And fighting the federal government.
Follow @jglionna for national news
Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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