Nevada's senators sparred Friday on live TV in Las Vegas over the standoff between the federal government and rancher Cliven Bundy.
"What Sen. Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots," GOP Sen. Dean Heller said during the rare joint appearance on KSNV-TV . "We have a very different view on this."
Sitting next to his senior colleague, Heller was referring to comments made Thursday by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., about the militia-type groups that came to the defense of rancher Cliven Bundy, who has upwards of a million dollars in unpaid grazing fees that led the Bureau of Land Management to round up cattle on federal land.
Reid said Thursday that the people involved "who hold themselves out to be patriots, are not. They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists."
"Bundy doesn't believe that the American government is valid. He believes that the United States is a foreign government. He doesn't pay his taxes, he doesn't follow the law, he doesn't pay his fees," Reid said Friday. "If anyone thinks that what happened up there was just rallying to somebody that was oppressed. 600 people came in armed ... they knew what they were doing. They set up snipers in strategic locations."
"It's a pretty broad brush," Heller said Reid is using in making the "domestic terrorist" charge. "When you have boy scouts there, you have veterans at the event, you have grandparents at the event."
"That's grandmothers? That's boy scouts? I hope not," Reid said, trading barbs with Heller.
"I take more issues with BLM coming in with a paramilitary army of people, individuals with snipers, and I'm talking to people and groups that were there at the event, and to have your own government with sniper lenses on you, it made a lot of people very uncomfortable," Heller replied.
Heller later said that he would call for hearings in Washington, D.C., about the federal government actions, including the efforts by the BLM to round up the cattle. He also said he wanted to explore the ownership of rural land by the federal government.
Reid, for his part, reiterated what he said Thursday about talking to various senior federal officials about the events at the Bundy ranch, adding "It's obvious that you can't just walk away from this."