Lott Accuses Frist of 'Personal Betrayal'
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
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
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
``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
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
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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