Is the GOP Finally Free of Cliven Bundy?

The rancher reemerges to cut a political ad — and not for a Republican.
Photograph by: David Becker/Getty Images

Nevada rancher and self-described patriot Cliven Bundy is back with a new, awkward campaign ad for a longshot candidate for Congress.

In the video, Bundy and Kamau Bakari, a black third-party candidate running against incumbent Nevada Representative Dina Titus, challenge Attorney General Eric Holder to a discussion on race as Bundy muses, “It's almost like black folks think white folks owe them something.”

The good news for Republicans is that nearly six months after Bundy receded from the public spotlight in the wake of his earlier disparaging comments about African Americans during his standoff with the federal government, he isn't as strongly connected to the Republican Party as he was at the peak of his infamy, having recently switched to the Independent America Party, under whose banner Bakari is running.

For the GOP, the Bundy episode underscored an inconvenient truth about the party's image problem: sometimes, there's overlap between people who worry about a big government welfare state and people who are horrible racists.


When Bundy first shared his thoughts on the “Negro” and argued that black people “abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton,” the right quickly disowned him as the left argued this was proof of the GOP's — or at least the Tea Party's — inherent racism.

Fox News host Sean Hannity, who had given a lot of air time to Bundy, called his comments “repugnant” and said they would give ammunition to people who think Republicans are racists. He was right.

Six months later, the reemergence of Bundy isn't being tied to the GOP, or Republican support for his anti-government rancher crusade. The new ad was covered by GawkerThe Washington PostCrooks and LiarsWonkette and others as more evidence that Bundy is “still an idiot,” as Gawker put it. But now he's only embarrassing himself.

The ad opens with a clip of Attorney General Eric Holder's well-known 2009 speech in which he said that America is "essentially a nation of cowards” when it comes to race.

Bundy says Holder “must not know me” if he's accusing him of being afraid of discussing race, to which Bakari replies: “You mean if somebody called you a racist you wouldn't drop your head and be all scared and sad and run around here apologizing like them billionaire ball team owners did a little while ago?”

As we saw in April, Bundy didn't drop his head and be all scared, but insisted he's not a racist, just someone who speaks his mind. In the Bakari video, which is more of a defense of Cliven Bundy than a campaign ad, Bundy says a man should be able to speak his mind “without being called names.”

Bakari says that “a brave white man” like Bundy might be the key to ending political correctness in America, and the pair dares Holder to come to Las Vegas and talk to them. “And don't give us that 'you too busy' stuff,” Bakari adds. “You weren't too busy to go to Ferguson, Missouri.” 

As it turns out, the odds of Titus, a Democrat, losing her seat to Bakari are only slightly higher than the odds that Holder will take the duo up on their offer. The Cook Political Report rates the district “solidly Democratic.”

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