Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) was remembered in Baltimore on Friday with a moving and celebratory funeral that included remarks from former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
President Obama praised the late Rep. Cummings as an example of honorable manhood, saying that he hopes his two daughters learn that being a strong man includes being kind and compassionate.
“He was never complacent, for he knew that without clarity of purpose and a steadfast faith and a dogged determination demanded by our liberty, the promise of this nation could wither. Complacency, he knew, was not only corrosive for our collective lives, but for our individual lives,” Obama said to applause.
“There’s nothing weak about kindness and compassion. There’s nothing weak about looking out for others. There’s nothing weak about being honorable. You’re not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect,” Obama said.
Some observers saw Obama’s comments as a veiled criticism of President Trump.
Standing in front of enlarged pictures of the late lawmaker, Obama noted that Cummings was listed as “the honorable Elijah E. Cummings.”
“You know, this is a title that we confer on all kinds of people who get elected to public office,” he said, to laughter. “We’re supposed to introduce them as ‘honorable.’ But Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was elected to office — there is a difference!”
Cummings’s wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, at one point directed her remarks to Obama, telling him that her husband was “so proud.”
“To stand with you and for you early, to be your co-chair here in the state of Maryland, to serve as your chief defense attorney on the House Oversight Committee, and to make sure you and your administration were all right,” Rockeymoore Cummings said as Obama smiled.
“But you did not have any challenges like we got going on now,” she said, referencing the impeachment inquiry into Trump. “So his job became harder over time.”
“Secretary Clinton, oh my goodness — he spent many an hour defending you. Against spurious claims! And now he had to go on to actually work to fight for the soul of our democracy against very real corruption,” she addded
She addressed Trump’s comments about Baltimore and Rep. Cummings head-on, saying that his work became “infinitely more difficult in the last month of his life,” due to “sustained personal attacks and attacks on his beloved city.”
Trump in July called the 7th District of Maryland “a disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess,” on Twitter while slamming Cummings as a “brutal bully.”
Cummings said that the attacks deeply hurt her husband and also changed how she decided to celebrate his life. She admitted that Cummings would not have wanted a memorial service at the Capitol, which took place Thursday.
“I felt very strongly that they were trying to tear him down, and we needed to make sure that he went out with the respect and the dignity that he deserved,” she told the crowd.
Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the congressman's widow, told Obama:
"He was so proud. To stand with you and for you early … and to make sure that you and your administration were all right. But you did not have any challenges like we got going on now." pic.twitter.com/JAGu2bukiv
— Clarissa-Jan Lim (@clarissajanlim) October 25, 2019