Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) apologized after mistakenly tweeting out a photo of himself on Saturday with the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) to commemorate the death of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).
“Earlier today I tweeted an incorrect photo,” a penitent Rubio tweeted. “John Lewis was a genuine American hero I was honored to appear together in Miami 3 years ago at an event captured in video below My God grant him eternal rest[.]”
Earlier today I tweeted an incorrect photo
John Lewis was a genuine American hero
I was honored to appear together in Miami 3 years ago at an event captured in video below
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 18, 2020
After taking flak on Twitter for his gaffe that confused the two late civil rights leaders, Rubio deleted the incorrect tweet that he had briefly made into his profile picture.
“It was an honor to know & be blessed to serve in Congress with John Lewis a genuine & historic American hero,” Rubio wrote with a picture of Cummings.
“That is Elijah Cummings,” tweeted Astead Herndon, a reporter for The New York Times, which was a sentiment many others on Twitter reiterated, including Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY).
This is Elijah Cummings https://t.co/y68fbahAJm
— Steadman™ (@AsteadWesley) July 18, 2020
.@marcorubio this is a disgrace and as the senior U.S. Senator from your state, you as well as your staff should know the difference between the late Congressman Elijah Cummings and Congressman John Lewis. #DISGRACEFUL… correct it and get it right! https://t.co/nfFwBtBOiN
— Adriano Espaillat (@RepEspaillat) July 18, 2020
Marco Rubio’s tribute to John Lewis obliviously features a photo of him and Elijah Cummings. He even made it his avatar. pic.twitter.com/Go0OtgdvRm
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 18, 2020
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) July 18, 2020
Rubio spokesman Nick Iacovella blamed the mistake on a photo originally taken for The Philadelphia Inquirer that was mislabeled, according to The New York Times.
Joining Rubio in his gaffe was Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), who posted an image to Facebook of himself with Cummings in front of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History in Washington, D.C.
“America has lost a legend with the passing of Congressman John Lewis, of Georgia,” wrote Sullivan in part, who later deleted the post. “Congressman Lewis’ courage and principled leadership helped guide America through one of the most challenging periods in its history, calling our country to live up to its highest ideals with justice and equality for all people regardless of color or creed.”
According to The New York Times, a spokesman for Sullivan sent out an email that said, “Senator Sullivan’s staff made a mistake trying to honor an American legend.”
Sen. Dan Sullivan joins Sen. Marco Rubio in posting a picture of the late Elijah Cummings in their tribute to civil rights icon John Lewis. pic.twitter.com/EdrUWmKIw7
— Travis Akers (@travisakers) July 18, 2020
Lewis and Cummings were sometimes confused, which led Lewis to release a tongue-in-cheek statement last year announcing he would grow a beard to prevent being confused with his congressional colleague. “Just this weekend, I went to church in Maryland. Someone came up to me and said, ‘Hi, Mr. Cummings! I vote for you all the time,’’’ the statement quoted Lewis in part. “I just said thank you. What else could I say? That’s when I decided, I should just grow a beard.”
“Rep. Lewis’s announcement comes after years of ‘baldist’ press reports that have confused the two famously clean shaven, African-American members of Congress,” the statement continued. “Both are outspoken opponents of the administration and have served in the House more than 53 years combined. To make things even more confusing, Rep. Cummings is chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, while Rep. Lewis chairs the Oversight Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee.”
Lewis died Friday at age 80 after battling pancreatic cancer. He was a major figure of the civil rights movement, participating in lunch counter sit-ins during the 1960s, and was the youngest member of the “Big Six,” a group of leaders who organized Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington in 1963.