Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. who are also seeking the Republican primary nod for president, weighed in on the Oregon protesters who’ve taken over a federal facility at a wildlife refuge nearly 300 miles from Portland, with calls to stand down, go home and keep the peace.
Cruz said to a group of reporters he’s praying for a peaceful resolution, but that the protesters ought to speed up the process and exit the facility.
“Every one of us has a constitutional right to protest, to speak our minds,” he said, NBC News reported. “But we don’t have a constitutional right to use force and violence and to threaten force and violence on others. And so it is our hope that the protesters there will stand down peaceably, that there will not be a violent confrontation.”
Rubio, meanwhile, took a sharper tone in an interview on an Iowa radio station, KBUR.
“Let me just say, first of all, you’ve got to follow the law,” he said, Mediaite reported. “You can’t be lawless.”
Rubio also specified he agreed with critics of federal land use policy, but that the Oregon protesters have taken it too far.
“We live in a republic,” Rubio said. “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. That’s why we have people we can hold accountable.”
He continued, Mediaite reported: “There are states … dominated by the federal government in terms of land holding and we should fix it, but no one should be doing it in a way that’s outside the law. We are a nation of laws, we should follow those laws and they should be respected.”
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The protesters include sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in an armed standoff with the federal government in 2014 over grazing rights. Since Saturday, protesters have taken over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge visitor’s building, and refuse to leave until the five-year prison sentences handed by the Justice Department to fellow ranchers Dwight Hammond and Steven Hammond are softened. The Hammonds were sentenced initially to three months for burning away invasive species located on federal properties, but the government said that sentence was too light and demanded a harsher outcome.