Lott to resign by end of year
By JACK ELLIOTT JR., Associated Press Writer 11
JACKSON, Miss. - Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, the
Senate's No. 2 Republican, plans to resign his seat
before the end of the year, congressional and White
House officials said Monday.
Lott, 66, scheduled two news conferences in Pascagoula
and Jackson later in the day to reveal his plans.
According to congressional and White House officials,
who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the
announcement, Lott intends to resign effective the end
of the year.
No reason for Lott's resignation was given, but
according to a congressional official, there is
nothing amiss with Lott's health. The senator has
"other opportunities" he plans to pursue, the official
said, without elaborating. The senator is serving his
fourth Senate term.
Lott's colleagues elected him as the Senate's
Republican whip last year, a redemption for the
Mississippian after his ouster five years ago as the
party's Senate leader over remarks he made at retiring
Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party in 2002.
Lott had saluted the South Carolina senator with
comments later interpreted as support for southern
After the 2006 elections, when Democrats recaptured
the Senate, Lott was put in charge of lining up and
counting Republican votes as whip, the No. 2 job
behind minority leader Mitch McConnell.
Lott becomes the sixth Senate Republican this year to
Lott had apologized after the 2002 remarks, but his
Senate colleagues undermined him and White House
officials demanded his ouster. Lott later wrote in a
book that President Bush hurt his feelings by
disavowing the comments in a tone that was
"devastating ... booming and nasty."
Another event during Lott's exile changed his
relationship with the White House: Hurricane Katrina.
The massive storm devastated Lott's home state, not to
mention his oceanside home in Pascagoula. He found his
refrigerator a few blocks away in a neighbor's yard.
For him, the administration's bungled response was
personal. He considered retiring.
His 2006 comeback was an apt outlet for the
Mississippian's talents. He was the rare majority
leader who seemed to relish the vote-wrangling duties
that some of his predecessors loathed. Lott
appropriated former majority leader Howard Baker's
derisive description of the job for the title of his
tell-all memoir last year: "Herding Cats: A Life in
The smooth-spoken Lott found himself in hot water in
December 2002 after going too far in his praise of GOP
Sen. Strom Thurmond at the South Carolinian's 100th
birthday party. Lott said Mississipppi voters were
proud to have supported Thurmond when he ran for
president on a segregationist platform in 1948, and
added: "If the rest of the country had followed our
lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all
these years either."
A few days later, Lott issued a statement saying he
had made "a poor choice of words" that "conveyed to
some the impression that I embraced the discarded
policies of the past. Nothing could be further from
the truth, and I apologize to anyone who was offended
by my statement."
But the damage was done. Bush distanced himself from
Lott's remarks, telling an audience the comments "do
not reflect the spirit of our country."