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Ted Cruz to armed Oregon protesters: 'Stand down'

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) criticized the armed protesters who have occupied a federal wildlife refuge building in Oregon since Saturday, NBC News reports. The group, led by two sons of Cliven Bundy, an anti-government Nevada rancher, has vowed to stay in the building until the federal government turns over the land to locals.

"Every one of us has a constitutional right to protest, to speak our minds," Cruz told reporters in Iowa on Monday. "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."

Many of Cruz's opponents for the Republican presidential nomination have stayed silent on the issue, but Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also weighed in Monday, telling an Iowa radio station, "You cannot be lawless."

On Monday morning, The Washington Post reports, the FBI took over the response to the armed occupation from local and state authorities.