Trent Lott; a racist for life

Gore blasts statement as 'racist'

By Nobel Johns

-The man who will lead the U.S. Senate next year as its Majority Leader is a racist for life, and it’s a sad commentary that this country can have as one of its majority leader not only a diehard racist and KKK, but maybe a lyncher of innocent Blacks in his home state Mississippi!

Senate Republican leader Trent Lott said Monday he meant no harm by a recent statement that the country would have avoided "all these problems" if voters had, in 1948, elected Strom Thurmond president -- who at that time favored segregation. He’s a dirty lie!

"This was a lighthearted celebration of the 100th birthday of legendary Sen. Strom Thurmond. My comments were not an endorsement of his positions of over 50 years ago, but of the man and his life," Lott said in a statement.

But some Democrats were angry. Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson called for Lott to resign, and former Vice President Al Gore told CNN that the comment was "racist."

Issuing one of the harshest rebukes Lott has received to date, even from Democrats, Gore said in an interview scheduled to air Monday on CNN's "Inside Politics with Judy Woodruff" that Lott should apologize for his comments or face censure by the Senate.

Lott, R-Mississippi, made the comment Thursday on Capitol Hill during a 100th birthday celebration for Thurmond, who is retiring next month after nearly 48 years in the Senate. The comment was broadcast live on C-SPAN.

Lott said, "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

Gore: Lott should apologize for his comments or face censure by the Senate.

In the 1948 presidential race, during which he ran as the nominee of the breakaway Dixiecrat Party, Thurmond carried Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and his home state of South Carolina. During the campaign, he said, "All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negro into our homes, our schools, our churches."

Thurmond's party ran under a platform that declared in part, "We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race."

Lott, who will resume his duties as Senate majority leader when the 108th Congress convenes next month, issued a two-sentence statement Monday defending the remark. But that statement did not explain what he meant when he said "all these problems."

Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, said Monday that he believes Lott did not intend for his comments to be interpreted as racist.

"There are a lot of times when he and I go to the mike and would like to say things we meant to say differently, and I'm sure this is one of those cases for him as well," Daschle said.

Gore offered no criticism of Thurmond, saying the retiring senator has since "repudiated" those views. But he said Lott's remarks are "divisive" and fit the "definition of a racist comment."

"To say that the problems that we have in America today, some of them, stem from not electing a segregationist candidate for president ... is fundamentally racist," Gore said.

Asked if he believes Lott is a racist, Gore said, "Trent Lott made a statement that I think is a racist statement, yes. That's why I think he should withdraw those comments or I think the United States Senate should undertake a censure of those comments.

"It is not a small thing, Judy, for one of the half dozen most prominent political leaders in America to say that our problems are caused by integration and that we should have had a segregationist candidate. That is divisive and it is divisive along racial lines. That's the definition of a racist comment," Gore said.

During the CNN interview, Gore also said he will decide later this month whether to run for president in 2004 and will announce his decision early next year.

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