Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Monday called for armed protesters who occupied a federal building in Oregon to “stand down peaceably.”
“Every one of us has a constitutional right to protest, to speak our minds,” Cruz told reporters in Iowa. “But we don’t have a constitutional right to use force and violence and to threaten force and violence against others. So it is our hope that the protesters there will stand down peaceably, that there will not be a violent confrontation.”
Cruz added that “our prayers” are with members of law enforcement addressing the standoff, which started Saturday after a group of protesters seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also addressed the issue Monday, telling an Iowa radio station "you cannot be lawless."
Rubio said during an interview with KBUR that he agrees "that there is too much federal control over land especially out in the western part of the United States."
"We should fix it, but no one should be doing it in a way that's outside the law," he added.
The occupying group includes Ammon and Ryan Bundy, the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who led another tense confrontation over federal government land rights in 2014. The group says it is pushing for limits on the federal government’s control over Western land.
GOP candidates had largely been quiet on the Oregon clash over the weekend, although not all campaigns were mum.
John Weaver, a senior aide for GOP candidate John Kasich, said in a tweet: “I know a good federal compound for Bundy and his gang: a U.S. penitentiary.”