Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to Congress
, said Friday that GOP candidate's Ben Carson's words about Muslims aren't the first he's heard during a presidential race, but he guesses that's just "politics as usual."
"We've heard this kind of thing for the last three cycles," the Minnesota Democrat told CNN "New Day"
host Chris Cuomo. "Newt Gingrich was saying things like this; Herman Cain was saying things like that. It is kind of getting to be their tradition."
However, Ellison, who was elected in 2006, told Cuomo that he is taking heart in the words of Pope Francis after his historic address to the joint session of Congress on Thursday.
"Papa Francisco is very clear that we have to have an inclusive message," Ellison said. "In paraphrasing, he said, don't let the extremists make you into an extremist. Don't assign yourself the role of righteous and the other the role of sinner, and judge not, lest ye be judged."
Carson, though, is making money from his comment, said Ellison.
"He's been sending emails out soliciting, and is bragging about making $300,000 since he made these ugly comments, so I guess it is just politics as usual," said Ellison. "But Papa Francisco is making it a little different."
He said the pope has the potential to "help us turn to each other instead of turning on each other... and I think that he has the potential to create some transformation."
And Congress members were listening, said Ellison, and he hopes that spirit carries forward.
"Maybe we need somebody to hit the reset button for us," he told Cuomo. "And the pope is doing that. He's absolutely right; the level of polarization is toxic. We're trying to avert a shutdown in just a few days. This is because we cannot talk to each other."
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