RENO, Nev. — Republican Rep. Ron Paul railed against the federal government during a campaign stop in Nevada on Thursday, saying states are in the best position to resolve conflicts over the management of wild horses and roads on public lands.
About 300 people turned out to see Paul in Elko at a late afternoon rally ahead of Saturday's presidential caucus in Nevada. More than 300 people also gathered to see him in Reno in the evening.
Paul said that while he's unsure of the solution to the wild horse problem in Nevada and other Western states, he thinks federal land managers should be the last resort to resolve the issue. He said he would like to see Nevada and other states come up with solutions.
"The last thing I think is some bureaucrat in Washington should be solving this problem," Paul said. "I can guarantee they'll make a wrong decision and not please anyone. The more privatized and localized, the better solution it would be."
In recent years, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has removed thousands of "excess" wild horses from public lands in the West it says are harming rangelands and native wildlife. Horse advocates oppose the move, saying the agency is removing the animals to appease ranchers and make room for more cows.
Paul also said the U.S. Forest Service should not be imposing travel management plans on public land in Nevada and elsewhere across the West. The effort, which began under George W. Bush's presidential administration, should be up to the states, he said.
"I don't want the federal government dictating to Nevada, period," Paul said. "I want to see the land owned and controlled by the states."
Paul said he offers a choice to voters because he doesn't support the status quo.Comment on this story
"If the status quo is extended by the other candidates, I have to challenge them. And they all represent a variation of the status quo," he said.
Paul shrugged off Donald Trump's endorsement of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, saying he doesn't think it will help Romney at all.
"I don't know why anybody talks about him (Trump)," Paul said. "I don't think he has that much credibility. I don't understand why we pay attention to him.'
Four years ago, Paul finished second in Nevada's GOP caucuses to Mitt Romney.
Associated Press writer Martin Griffith in Reno contributed to this report.