In the clip, the pallbearer, Bobby Rankin, is seen shaking the hands of several lawmakers before ignoring McConnell’s hand, and the Kentucky Republican certainly seemed to be caught off guard by the move.
Rankin, a 64-year-old man from Charlotte, told The Washington Post that he had personal reasons for not shaking McConnell’s hand. His brother, Jerry, died from cancer last October after being exposed to contaminated water while serving in the Marines. Rankin said Jerry didn’t get his veterans’ benefits in the final months of his life. His longtime friend Cummings attempted to resolve the matter at the time, but that McConnell blocked it.
“When I saw Mitch McConnell, all I saw was my brother’s face,” Rankin told the paper.
Rankin did not elaborate, according to the Post, “exactly why his brother didn’t receive VA benefits or McConnell’s precise role in Jerry’s battle to get them after his cancer returned in 2016.”
“Elijah Cummings reached across party lines trying to help my brother get his military benefits, and Mitch McConnell was one of the persons he reached out to,” Rankin told the Post.
“I could not put my hands in the man’s hand who refused to help somebody who served his country … I couldn’t do it, because I was thinking about my brother,” he added.
Scroll up and watch the viral handshake moment via the clip above.