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Lott Accuses Frist of 'Personal Betrayal'

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5217325,00.html Lott Accuses Frist of Personal Betrayal Thursday August 18, 2005 1:46 AM By DAVID ESPO AP
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 17, 2005
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      http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5217325,00.html

      Lott Accuses Frist of 'Personal Betrayal'

      Thursday August 18, 2005 1:46 AM

      By DAVID ESPO

      AP Special Correspondent

      WASHINGTON (AP) - Former Senate Majority Leader Trent
      Lott blames his fall from power in 2002 on a
      ``personal betrayal'' by an ambitious Sen. Bill Frist,
      his successor, adding in a new book that President
      Bush, Colin Powell and other GOP associates played a
      role.

      Frist, R-Tenn., ``didn't even have the courtesy to
      call and tell me personally that he was going to
      run,'' the Mississippi Republican wrote of a
      tumultuous period in which he lost his position as
      Senate leader after making racially tinged remarks.

      ``If Frist had not announced exactly when he did, as
      the fire was about to burn out, I would still be
      majority leader of the Senate today,'' Lott said in
      ``Herding Cats, A Life in Politics.''

      In the book, Lott described an unusual partnership
      with President Clinton that worked to the detriment of
      1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole; praised former
      Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota
      as trustworthy; and recalled that Vice President
      Gerald R. Ford personally cautioned him ``not to go so
      far out on a limb'' in defending President Nixon
      during the Watergate scandal.

      A native of Mississippi, Lott recalled feeling ``anger
      in my heart over the way the federal government had
      invaded Ole Miss to accomplish something that could
      have been handled peacefully and administratively,''
      the admission of the first black student to the
      University of Mississippi in 1962.

      As a law student at the school, Lott wrote, he
      remembered the visiting professors from Yale, brought
      in to teach constitutional law. ``Instead of making us
      more liberal, they helped create a generation of
      thoughtful, issue-oriented conservatives who grew up
      to run Mississippi politics.''

      Lott, first elected to the House in 1972, moved to the
      Senate in 1988.

      He became majority leader in 1996, succeeding Dole
      when the Kansan quit to campaign full time for the
      White House.

      In the book, Lott wrote he quickly formed an unusual
      alliance with Clinton. Political consultant Dick
      Morris was the go-between.

      The ``backstairs arrangement'' produced major health
      and welfare legislation, ``but I was treading on
      dangerous territory,'' Lott wrote.

      Dole protested. ``But I thought there was more at
      stake than Dole's chances at winning the White
      House,'' Lott wrote. ``Dole wasn't providing as much
      coattails for other Republicans on the ticket as we
      had hoped,'' Lott added.

      Republicans lost their thin majority in 2001 when Sen.
      Jim Jeffords of Vermont left the GOP to become an
      independent.

      ``I had raised money for Jeffords; in 2000, I had even
      campaigned for him in Vermont. Six months later, this
      was the way he repaid me,'' Lott wrote.

      ``He'd always had a habit of bartering his crucial
      vote on legislation for his own pet projects,'' Lott
      said.

      Lott said that Jeffords once demanded $1 billion for a
      child health program and also sought provisions to
      help Vermont's dairy industry.

      Lott's final fall from power was triggered when he
      said at Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday that the
      country ``wouldn't have had all these problems over
      the years'' if it had elected Thurmond president in
      1948.

      The remarks directed to the one-time segregationist
      were delivered off the cuff, Lott wrote, saying he
      often kidded Thurmond, R-S.C., by telling him he would
      have made a great president.

      The uproar was slow to build. But, Lott wrote, by the
      time it was over, former Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma
      had helped bring him down, and he recalled a tense
      conversation with Sen. George Allen of Virginia, who
      told him to resign for the good of the party.

      ```I'm not going to do it,' I yelled back at him. `I'm
      not going to do it and I'm very disappointed by your
      call,'' Lott wrote.

      Bush ``struck at me,'' Lott wrote, when he said that
      Lott `has apologized and rightly so.''

      Lott added, ``I couldn't argue with the words he
      chose. But the tone he employed was devastating ...
      booming and nasty.''

      Powell, who was secretary of state at the time, called
      in reporters to deplore Thurmond's Dixiecrat campaign
      of 1948. ``I couldn't understand it. I'd worked with
      him enough over the years that he should have known I
      wasn't a racist,'' Lott wrote.

      ^---

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