‘When a place gets so tribal that the two tribes won’t have anything to do with each other … that jealousy turns into hate…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) Add Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson to the growing list of public officials using campaign language that’s both over-the-top and dangerous.
Locked in a dead-heat re-election race with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, the 76-year-old Nelson made inflammatory comments at an African-American church over the weekend—just two days after calling for civility in a news interview.
“That story of Rwanda is very instructive to us,” Nelson said Sunday at Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in Florida City.
“Because when a place gets so tribal that the two tribes won’t have anything to do with each other … that jealousy turns into hate,” said Nelson.
He added, “And we saw what happened to the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda. It turned into a genocide. A million people hacked to death within a few months. And we have got to watch what’s happening here.”
The racially charged comments are reminiscent of former Vice President Joe Biden’s incendiary remarks in 2012, when he told an African-American audience that Republicans want to “put [them] back in chains.”
Biden also drew negative attention last week at a rally supporting Florida races for likening President Donald Trump to former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, a Democrat who opposed school integration early in his career. Wallace was paralyzed from the waist following a 1972 assassination attempt during a presidential run.
Nelson is seeking a fourth term in the senate. He was elected in 2000, and served in the House for nearly 20 years prior.
His Rwanda remarks belie a very different public message of civility that’s meant to appeal to moderate Florida voters.
On Friday, Nelson told Bay News 9 in Tampa that, “Everybody needs to watch what they’re saying. We are all responsible, every one of us.”
The Scott campaign condemned Nelson’s comments, and said the “Sunday Bill Nelson apparently didn’t get Friday Bill Nelson’s message.”