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FL-Sen: Bill Nelson compares current state of US politics to the atmosphere in pre-genocide Rwanda

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) speaks during a campaign rally in August at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades in Orlando, Florida. Nelson recently compared the political climate in the United States to the one in pre-genocide Rwanda. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) compared the current state of U.S. politics to the political climate in pre-genocide Rwanda.

What did he say?

“When a place gets so tribal that the two tribes won't have anything to do with each other ... that jealousy turns into hate,” Nelson said while campaigning Sunday at a Baptist church in Florida. “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.”

In a statement, Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin told CNN that Nelson “wasn't likening the current political climate in America to what was happening right before the Rwandan genocide” and that Nelson “uses Rwanda as an extreme example of what could happen when a nation becomes totally divided.”

What happened in Rwanda?

On April 6, 1994, the presidents of Burundi and Rwanda died after a rocket hit their plane. A propaganda campaign blamed their deaths on a militia made up of ethnic Tutsis. This militia had signed a peace treaty the year before, and insisted that extremists from the Hutu people had shot down the plane to justify the killing that followed. Broadcasts from Rwanda's Radio Television Libres Des Mille Collines called for an elimination of the “Tutsi cockroach.”

After this, kill squads systematically targeting the Tutsis. In 100 days, 800,000 Tutsi people were massacred.

What else?

Nelson, 76, is running for re-election against current Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). The latest poll from the University of North Florida shows Nelson with a slight lead of 47 percent to 46 percent, well within the margin for error of +/- 3 percent.

The same poll showed the Democratic candidate running to replace Scott, Andrew Gillum, is leading his Republican opponent Ron DeSantis, 49 percent to 43 percent.

One last thing…
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