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FILE PHOTO: House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) addresses a National Press Club luncheon on his "committee's investigations into President Donald Trump and his administration," in Washington, U.S., August 7, 2019. Photo by Mary F. Calvert/Reuters

How Rep. Elijah Cummings is being remembered

Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings died early Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital due to complications from longstanding health challenges, his congressional office said. He was 68.

Family, friends and fellow politicians are honoring Cummings’ legacy. Here is how he is being remembered.

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings

Cummings’ death has made a widow of Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the chair of Maryland’s Democratic Party.

She released a statement, calling her husband “an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility.”

She says Cummings “worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem.”

She says “It has been an honor to walk by his side on this incredible journey. I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.”

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump left aside his differences with Rep. Elijah Cummings in a brief tweet responding to the powerful Democrat’s death on Thursday.

Trump’s tweet said “My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!”

President Barack Obama

Former President Barack Obama says he and Michelle “are heartbroken” over the passing of their friend.

Obama says that as chairman of the House oversight committee, Cummings “showed us all not only the importance of checks and balances within our democracy, but also the necessity of good people stewarding it.”

Obama’s statement calls the Democrat from Maryland “steely yet compassionate, principled yet open to new perspectives” and “steadfast in his pursuit of truth, justice, and reconciliation.”

Obama said “it’s a tribute to his native Baltimore that one of its own brought such character, tact, and resolve into the halls of power every day,” and he hopes Cummings’ example will “inspire more Americans to pick up the baton and carry it forward in a manner worthy of his service.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’s devastated by the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings.

“In the House, Elijah was our North Star. He was a leader of towering character and integrity, whose stirring voice and steadfast values pushed the Congress and country to rise always to a higher purpose,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Her statement says Cummings’ chairmanship of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform proved his commitment to “restoring honesty and honor to government.”

Pelosi is a native of Cummings’ district in Baltimore, where she says “we will miss our champion.”

Presidential candidates

Former Vice President Joe Biden said the Maryland congressman’s life was “defined by the love of his community and a fierce commitment to ensuring truth wins over power.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren called him a dear friend, and said “good people everywhere will miss his rumbling voice, his kind heart, and his deep conviction that every human being has worth.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders said it was an honor to work closely with him over the years, and that “his integrity and moral vision for his community and the country were extraordinary.”

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg called on Americans to “honor him by insisting on justice and integrity in leadership, as he did.” And Kamala Harris said “we lost a giant today,” describing Cummings as a “protector of democracy.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar recalled Cummings’ kindness to her when she was a new senator a decade ago. “His advice was as true as his love for his country,” she said.

Other politicians

Former Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina is paying tribute to the late Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings. Gowdy, who chaired the House Benghazi and Oversight committees, frequently sparred with Cummings, the top Democrat on both panels.

But Gowdy said on Twitter that Cummings, who died Thursday, was “one of the most powerful, beautiful & compelling voices in American politics,” whose authenticity and sincerely held beliefs were an inspiration.

While the two men rarely agreed on politics, Gowdy said “we never had a cross word outside of a committee room.” Gowdy praised Cummings for what he called “a unique ability to separate the personal from the work.”

He said Cummings, the son of a South Carolina sharecropper, overcame external obstacles “and sometimes internal doubt” to become a lawyer and congressman at the center of major political issues over the past decade.

House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn said Cummings’ “calm but firm hand will be missed on the Oversight Committee as it proceeds with the difficult work ahead.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he was “shocked and saddened” to hear of Cummings’ passing.

“He taught us patience and fortitude when confronted with malice from opponents, which he answered with ‘charity for all.’ And his faith in democracy served as a lesson to us all,” Hoyer said in a statement.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy remembered Cummings as “a leader for both parties to emulate, and someone to share a laugh with even amongst the most contentious times.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Cummings a “dedicated public servant.” And Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said Cummings “stood as a symbol for the heights one could reach if they paid no mind to obstacles, naysayers and hate.”

Rep. Jim Jordan, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee that Cummings chaired, said the late representative “injected an unyielding passion and purpose into his work on the Committee.”

Maryland Senate President Mike Miller called Cummings an icon and one of the people he most admired in Maryland politics.

And Baltimore Mayor Jack Young says Cummings was a gifted social justice crusader. The mayor said Cummings wasn’t afraid to speak out “against brutal dictators bent on oppression, unscrupulous business executives who took advantage of unsuspecting customers, or even a U.S. President. He was, put simply, a man of God who never forgot his duty to fight for the rights and dignity of the marginalized and often forgotten.”

The PBS NewsHour contributed to this report.

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