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Elijah Cummings’ widow says Rubio made ‘honest mistake’ in mixing

(CNN)Rep. Elijah Cummings’ widow is calling for forgiveness for Sen. Marco Rubio after the Florida Republican posted a photo of her late husband in a tribute to Rep. John Lewis, who died last week.

“Rubio’s honest mistake was one that John and Elijah were completely used to forgiving since they were considered doppelgangers: biologically unrelated but, to the unpracticed eye, looking so much alike that they were often mistaken for the other,” Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

Urging that Rubio “should be forgiven,” she added that “Elijah and John were friends and the ongoing case of mistaken identity became a running joke between them,” recounting how each congressmen had been mistaken for the other.

The late Reps. Elijah Cummings (left) and John Lewis

The late Reps. Elijah Cummings (left) and John Lewis

The late Reps. Elijah Cummings (left) and John Lewis

Rubio on Saturday acknowledged tweeting an image that mistook Cummings for Lewis. The senator then deleted his post, replacing it with an image of Lewis and a new tribute.

“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. My God grant him eternal rest,” Rubio said in his updated tweet.

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Cummings, a longtime Maryland Democrat and a key figure leading investigations into President Donald Trump, died in October 2019. Lewis, a towering icon of the civil rights movement and a longtime Democratic US congressman from Georgia, died on Friday.

Rubio wasn’t the only lawmaker to make the gaffe. The office of Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican, said it had made a mistake after a Facebook post honoring Lewis included a picture of Sullivan with Cummings in front of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Rockeymoore Cummings on Tuesday also noted instances in which Fox News and, months later, CBS News each mixed up the two men.

“Within days, I received a personal call of apology for the mix up from DeDe Lea, Executive Vice President of ViacomCBS,” she wrote. “I’m still waiting on my call from Fox News.”

Rockeymoore Cummings, a former chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, lost a special election in February that saw 24 candidates vying for a chance to serve the remainder of her late husband’s term in Congress.

She wrote in her statement Tuesday that even she has corrected “friendly acquaintances” more than once.

“Even I had to explain the difference on more than one occasion when friendly acquaintances would reach out on social media to tell me that they saw my husband Congressman Lewis on television,” she said, adding that “while their face and heads were similar, they were of dramatically different heights: Elijah was more than a foot taller.”

Musing on the similarities, she said, “They say that we all have a look alike somewhere in the world. But what are the chances that we will ever see them or meet them?”

“That John and Elijah would not only meet but serve together in the U.S. Congress defies all odds. And, despite the confusion about their similar appearance, I believe that their biggest similarity was their indomitable freedom loving spirits.”

CNN’s Kelly Mena contributed to this report.


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