Former GOP senator's tribute exemplifies bipartisan reverence for Rep. John Lewis

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Tim O'Donnell
·2 min read
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The late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was known for his humble, calm demeanor, as well as his penchant for forgiveness. The civil rights leader famously met with and accepted an apology from a Ku Klux Klan member who beat him in 1961, and in 1998 he penned an op-ed in The New York Times saying that while he could not forget that former Alabama Gov. George Wallace championed segregationist policies, he "deserves to be remembered for his effort to redeem his soul" in the later years of his life.

That attitude seemed to carry over to Lewis' days in Congress, where he was revered by Democrats and Republicans alike and did not appear to let partisan disagreements seep over into personal discord. Indeed, there are stories of newly-elected GOP lawmakers who sought out Lewis' advice when they got to Washington, D.C. Lewis also shared a friendship with former Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who retired from the upper chamber last year over health concerns.

Isakson invited Lewis to attend his final Senate floor speech, in which he called the Democratic congressman "one of my real heroes." A few days before that, the two men embraced each other on the House floor after Lewis gave a speech honoring Isakson.

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Isakson issued a statement Saturday following Lewis' death on Friday, saying "his legacy and the lessons he leaves behind have touched us all."

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