Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder was one of the few Republicans Saturday to voice support for Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon who found himself the subject of a barrage of critical tweets from President-elect Donald Trump.
Lewis, 76, had questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s election, in which he lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million votes but won the electoral vote.
Trump tweeted that Lewis should focus on his district, “which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested).”
“All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!” Trump tweeted.
Lewis has represented Georgia’s 5th Congressional district since 1987. The Atlanta district is home to several top universities and corporations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the world’s busiest.
On Saturday, Yoder tweeted that while he disagreed with questioning the legitimacy of the election, he praised Lewis as a hero and icon who “deserves all of our respect. He’s earned it.”
Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse also defended Lewis, tweeting Saturday that the Georgia Democrat “had changed the world.” Sasse was one of the most prominent Republicans who refused to support Trump as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee.
Lewis was beaten by police during a civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. Yoder appeared with Lewis to mark the 50th anniversary of the event in 2015.
“Bloody Sunday” was a watershed event that led to the passage of the Voting Right Act.
While Democrats from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi through the House rank and file voiced support for Lewis on Saturday, Republican congressional leaders seemed more focused on their efforts to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.
Yoder, a three-term lawmaker who represents suburban Kansas City, Kansas, was one of the first Republicans in Congress to defend Lewis.
“We’ve come a long way since 1965, but we must continue to be ever vigilant in our enduring commitment to the civil rights of every American,” he said in 2015.