Paul LePage: John Lewis should thank Republican presidents for ending slavery, fighting Jim Crow

Gov. Paul Lepage

Story highlights

  • "John Lewis ought to look at history," LePage said Tuesday.
  • LePage's comments come after Lewis said on NBC News that Donald Trump was not a "legitimate" president.
  • Trump responded by tweeting that Lewis was "All talk, talk, talk - no action or results."

(CNN)Paul LePage, the Republican governor of Maine, said Tuesday that civil rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis should "look at history" and say "thank you" to 19th century Republican presidents for fighting for the rights of African-Americans.

LePage's comments come after Lewis said on NBC News that Donald Trump was not a "legitimate" president. Trump responded by tweeting that Lewis was "All talk, talk, talk - no action or results."
"How about John Lewis last week?" LePage said on WVOM Maine radio's George Hale and Ric Tyler Show. "Criticizing the president. You know, I will just say this. John Lewis ought to look at history. It was Abraham Lincoln that freed the slaves. It was Rutherford B. Hayes and Ulysses S. Grant that fought against Jim Crow laws. A simple 'thank you' would suffice."
Grant was president from 1869 to 1877, prior to the start of Jim Crow, while his successor Hayes was the president who oversaw the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of the Jim Crow era.
Lewis was a civil rights leader who was badly beaten in 1965 in Selma, Alabama, by Alabama state troopers during the march to Montgomery.
LePage made the comments after saying that Maine congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who said she wouldn't attend Trump's inauguration, should resign if she boycotted Friday's ceremony.
"For some reason, the left has become so hateful and so, they are trying to bully us out of believing our constitution," he said. "Chellie Pingree, if she won't attend on Friday, I would advise her to resign."