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Collins "disappointed" in fellow congressman Lewis over Trump remarks

Lewis image courtesy house.gov/Collins image WBFO file photo

A local congressman is weighing in on a fellow federal lawmaker's weekend remarks about President-Elect Donald Trump, expressing his disappointment while, during a television interview, suggesting that John Lewis is acting like a "spoiled child."

The weekend exchange between Congressman Lewis and President-Elect Trump was still much talked about during the Martin Luther King holiday. Lewis, during an interview, called Trump an "illegitimate president," while Trump took to his Twitter account to call Lewis "all talk and no action."

Congressman Chris Collins, in a Monday interview on the television network Fox Business, expressed his disappointment in Lewis' words and also the congressman's vow not to attend Friday's inauguration ceremony.

"I do know John Lewis and he really is an individual who should be respected for the role he played in the civil rights movement. You can never take that away from him. I'm just disappointed, frankly," Collins said in a telephone interview with WBFO. "I'm disappointed in John that he's not attending the inauguration and has used words like 'illegitimate president.'"

Collins pointed out that he did not vote for President Barack Obama and did not agree with Obama's policies, yet still showed proper respect for the office by attending the president's inauguration.

Democrats were quick to defend Lewis and his remarks Monday and took exception to criticism directed at the man many consider a civil rights icon. Lewis is known as one of the activists who, after crossing the Edmund Pettis Bridge during a march in Selma, Alabama in March 1965, was beaten by state troopers. He is also one of the original "Freedom Riders" who, in the early 1960s, traveled by bus to southern states to challenge segregation.

"The President-Elect of the United States offends all of us when he uses that sort of vitriolic, nasty, negative language to describe what I consider an American hero," said State Senator Tim Kennedy Monday at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Buffalo.

"The President-Elect of the United States should know better."

Congressman Collins, when asked by WBFO about his remarks on Fox Business suggesting Lewis was acting like a "spoiled child," suggested many Democrats are behaving in the same way because, as he sees it, they have not gotten over November's election result.

"They were pressing Donald Trump to make sure he would admit that Hillary Clinton was president when she wins, and then turn this on its head," Collins said. "He's won and they just cannot acknowledge it. So yeah, I was comparing them to spoiled little kids."

But if Democrats have not stopped complaining about the result, have Republicans perhaps not let up on rubbing it in? President-Elect Trump, for example, releaseda new year message on his Twitter account taking aim at his opponents. WBFO asked Collins for his thoughts.

"I really don't think there's been much gloating," he replied. "The Hillary supporters were wrong, the media were wrong, the polls were wrong. 306 Electoral College votes is a relative landslide, certainly for a Republican."

Collins stated that lawmakers have been working hard to finalize Trump's cabinet selections and are now even securing deputy positions and are, in his words, ready to move on.

"I will say when the Democrats throw their little temper tantrums, we do of course remind them Donald Trump won big and Hillary lost," he said. "But that's as a reaction to what they're doing. We're not initiating that."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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