Vice President-elect Mike Pence isn’t super happy with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).
“Donald Trump won this election fair and square,” Pence said on “Fox News Sunday.” “While I have great respect for John Lewis, particularly his contributions to the civil rights movement, I was deeply disappointed to see someone of his stature question the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s election as president and say he’s not attending the inauguration, and I hope he reconsiders both positions.”
Lewis said on Friday that Trump is not a “legitimate president,” referring to intelligence reports of Russian interference in the election. Lewis added that he will not be attending Trump’s inauguration. It will be the first one he’s missed since he was elected to Congress in 1986.
“I hope that John Lewis, and some others who have joined his plans to take a pass on the inauguration, will rethink that and will be with us and celebrate this extraordinary moment in the life of our nation and the life of democracy,” Pence said on Sunday.
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Lewis’ comments are “insanity,” “wrong” and “disappointing.”
“We need folks like John Lewis and others who I think have been champions of voter rights to actually recognize the fact that Donald Trump was duly elected. He’s going to put his hand on the Bible in five days,” Priebus said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I think it’s incredibly disappointing ― and I think it’s irresponsible ― for people like himself to question the legitimacy of the next United States president.”
“Putting the United States down across the world is not something a responsible person does,” Priebus added.
Trump himself took to Twitter Saturday to slam Lewis, saying the civil rights icon is “all talk, talk, talk ― no action.” Host Chris Wallace asked Pence on Sunday if Trump could “really say that about the man who got his head cracked open walking across the bridge in Alabama on Bloody Sunday.”
“Donald Trump has the right to defend himself,” Pence said. “When someone of John Lewis’ stature … to use terms like this is not a legitimate president ― it’s just deeply disappointing to me, and I hope he reconsiders.”
Pence then, oddly, claimed that Trump was really talking about the “generations of failed policies coming out of Washington, D.C.” instead of making the assumption that a black congressman was representing a failing district. (It’s not failing.)
“Donald Trump is a man who is profoundly impatient with failure, and you saw in the campaign, he went to major cities in this country and said we are going to bring safety to our streets,” Pence said.
“You remember that great line ‘what the heck do you have to lose?’ He is committed to bringing all the people in this country jobs and prosperity in ways that the failed liberal policies of the past several generations have not,” he said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also voiced concerns about Trump on Sunday, telling ABC’s “This Week” that Americans should be concerned about the president-elect because of his racist past.
“We all remember that Trump was one of the leaders of the so-called birther movement trying to delegitimize the presidency of our first African-American president, Barack Obama, which is an outrage,” Sanders said, adding that the focus should be on holding Trump accountable.
This post has been updated with comments from Sanders and Priebus.