Niger Innis, a Republican candidate for the 4th Congressional District in Nevada, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he hoped his conversation with Bundy would be "a teachable moment."
"Cliven Bundy's fight is a civil rights issue," said Innis, outside Las Vegas police headquarters, addressing about 40 Bundy supporters. "There is no particular race or ethnicity that civil rights belong to. Civil rights belong to all Americans."
This week, the New York Times reported, Cliven Bundy said, "I've often wondered, are [African-Americans] better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn't get no more freedom. They got less freedom."
At the Las Vegas rally on April 11, Innis said if he were elected, "Cliven Bundy and his wonderful family that I had the opportunity to meet a couple of weeks ago would be my constituents."
The Republican candidate said he told Bundy and his family that "As long as you take a page out of Dr. Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech, mission and civil rights movement, which was nonviolent, you will have the moral high ground."
Innis, a former Tea Party strategist, is the national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, a civil rights organization. He also got an endorsement from Nevada's Republican Party.
"The easy way out of this is to just condemn," Innis later told the Review-Journal, again citing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s example. "I think leadership demands more than condemnation. It demands confrontation.
"I said, 'You may have had a decent intent, but you made a mistake of using the slavery analogy,'" Innis added. "I told [Bundy] his fight for freedom is the thing that was robbed from blacks during slavery. That's when the light bulb went on."
During a press conference yesterday, Bundy attempted to explain himself. Asked whether he thought African-Americans were better off as slaves, Bundy said he didn't say that. "I said I was wondering. I'm still wondering."