Sens. Marco Rubio, Dan Sullivan confuse John Lewis and Elijah Cummings in remembrance photos

WASHINGTON — Sens. Marco Rubio and Dan Sullivan took heat Saturday for mixing up Rep. John Lewis and Rep. Elijah Cummings in tributes to Lewis.

In a since-deleted Twitter post, Rubio, the Florida Republican said it was "an honor to know & be blessed with the opportunity to serve in Congress with JohnLewis (sic) a genuine & historic American hero."

Sen. Marco Rubio's tribute to the late Rep. John Lewis
Sen. Marco Rubio's tribute to the late Rep. John Lewis

The picture attached to the tweet, however, was of Cummings, who died in October last year.

Sullivan’s initial Facebook tribute to Lewis featured a photo of Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Cummings at the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The revised tribute omitted the reference to the museum, and the photo of the pair was replaced with a picture of Lewis alone.

The changes were made without comment. In response to an email, Sullivan spokesman Mike Anderson wrote: “Senator Sullivan’s staff made a mistake trying to honor an American legend.”

Lewis, a civil rights icon who served in Congress for over three decades, died late Friday, leading to an outpouring of condolences and remembrances from lawmakers.

Rubio had also changed his Twitter profile picture to the image of him and Cummings, but after criticism on social media, changed the picture to one of him and Lewis.

He acknowledged the mistake in a post later in the afternoon, and shared a picture of him and Lewis at an event in Miami. "Earlier today I tweeted an incorrect photo," Rubio wrote. "John Lewis was a genuine American hero."

Sen. Marco Rubio's Twitter profile
Sen. Marco Rubio's Twitter profile

"Wrong black guy," wrote 60 Minutes' "60 in 6" correspondent Wesley Lowery.

"This is beyond parody," wrote Jessy Han.

Users posted screenshots of the post after Rubio deleted it, but noted the delay in a change to the senator's profile picture.

Daily Kos communications director Carolyn Fiddler posted a picture of Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., writing in jest, "What an honor to know Marco Rubio."

Cummings and Lewis appeared to have been aware of occasional confusion of others between the two lawmakers.

"I have gotten a lot of pictures with people thinking I’m John Lewis," Cummings said in an interview shown in a recent documentary, "John Lewis: Good Trouble," but noted he spared people the embarrassment of correcting them.

More: Rep. John Lewis, who 'risked his life and his blood' as a giant of the civil rights movement, dies of cancer at 80

And in an April Fool's Day press release last year, Lewis said he would grow a beard "in an attempt to avoid being repeatedly mistaken for Rep. Elijah Cummings."

"I guess being mistaken does have its advantages, though," Lewis joked. "Elijah’s younger than me, so I guess being mistaken for him is kind of a compliment. Maybe one day when I have a schedule conflict, I’ll see if he wouldn’t mind sitting in a hearing for me. You think anybody would notice?"

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sen. Marco Rubio mixes up John Lewis, Elijah Cummings in tribute