Senator Marco Rubio posted a photo of the late Elijah Cummings on Twitter while paying tribute to civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis. Rubio made the image his avatar. Shortly afterward, the image and the post was deleted from Rubio’s official Twitter page.
John Lewis died at the age of 80 on July 17, 2020, in Atlanta. He had been battling pancreatic cancer since late 2019. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi referred to Lewis as a “titan of the civil rights movement” who helped to “transform our nation.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell celebrated Lewis by remembering a time when the both sides of the aisle came together in the presence of Lewis to sing a rendition of the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”
Rubio Said That He Tweeted ‘An Incorrect Photo’
Rubio later corrected his mistake and posted a new image showing him with John Lewis. Rubio tweeted:
Earlier today I tweeted an incorrect photo
John Lewis was a genuine American hero
My God grant him eternal rest.
New York Times opinion writer Wajahat Ali mocked Rubio’s error by tweeting, “Thank you Allah for Marco Rubio’s Twitter fail today. We needed it. I hope the spirits of John Lewis and Elijah Cummings had good chuckles.” Another user posted a photo of Rubio with President Barack Obama while tweeting, “Hey, Marco Rubio, Here’s another great picture of you and John Lewis.”
Comedian Billy Eichner tweeted, “Marco Rubio you are so blatantly stupid, weak and willfully ignorant it is truly painful to watch thank you.”
It Was John Lewis Who Led the Tributes When Elijah Cummings Died in October 2019
Elijah Cummings died in October 2019 at the age of 68. A statement from his family said that Cummings died after suffering from “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.” Following his death, it was John Lewis who led the tributes to his colleague from the House floor. Lewis said in a statement regarding Cummings’ passing, “Chairman Elijah Cummings gave all he had. He dedicated his entire life to serving the public good. When this nation needed him most, he became a moral voice “crying in the wilderness,” and his words and actions called a reluctant nation to conscience.”
Lewis Joked in an April 2019 Press Release About How Often He Was Mistaken for Cummings
Fox News chyron misidentifies Rep. John Lewis as Rep. Elijah Cummings pic.twitter.com/W5eHCrWcNI
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) June 13, 2019
In December 2019, CBS Evening News broadcasted a photo of Elijah Cummings while discussing Lewis’ cancer diagnosis. Fox News made a similar mistake in June 2019 during a broadcast. Anchor Eric Shawn quickly apologized for the error, according to The Daily Beast. The Daily Beast article points out that the video showing Lewis that was aired included his nameplate showing his name.
Lewis joked about how often he was mistaken for Cummings in an April 2019 press release titled, “Rep. John Lewis Announces Plan to Grow a Beard.” The press release quoted Lewis as saying that a woman had recently come up to him at church to say, “Hi, Mr. Cummings! I vote for you all the time.” Lewis said that he responded by saying, “I just said thank you. What else could I say? That’s when I decided, I should just grow a beard.”