Republican Senator Joins Call for Lott’s Resignation
The second-highest ranked Republican Senator has joined the growing cry for Trent Lott’s resignation (R-MS) as incoming Senate Majority Leader following his racist remarks last week. Senator Don Nickles (R-OK), currently the assistant Republican leader in the Senate, called for a new election to replace Lott. “I am concerned Senator Lott has been weakened to the point that it may jeopardize his ability to enact our agenda and speak to all Americans,” Nickles said on the ABC News program “This Week.”
Nickles, a staunch anti-abortion conservative who opposed FDA approval of mifepristone, is said to be a likely replacement for Lott. Other possibilities include Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), known for his fight against campaign finance reform and his close ties to the Bush administration; Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), a more moderate voice who also has close ties to Bush; or Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), one of the Senate’s leading anti-abortion crusaders. Frist, a former physician, is supportive of stem cell research.
While Republicans begin jockeying for the leadership post, Lott has apologized for the remarks he made at retiring Senator Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday celebration, but has refused thus far to resign. Sometime this week, he plans to make an appearance on Black Entertainment Television to issue yet another apology and explain why he told Thurmond that the country would have been better off if Thurmond had won his presidential race in 1948. Thurmond ran as a segregationist candidate, leading many to argue that Lott was indicating his support for racist policies.
Lott’s most recent racist remarks are only the latest in his history in politics. In 1980, he made similar remarks at a campaign rally for Ronald Reagan, saying “You know, if we had elected this man 30 years ago, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today,” according to CNN. A statement issued by Lott’s office asserts that this remark was taken out of context, CNN reports. As House Republican Whip in 1981, Lott filed an amicus brief on behalf of Bob Jones University, arguing that the school’s racial discrimination in banning interracial dating should not affect their tax-exempt status, according to the Associated Press.
In Congress, Lott is firmly against women’s reproductive rights, and is putting the so-called “partial birth” abortion ban at the top of his agenda in January. The phrase “partial-birth” abortion is an inaccurate and inflammatory term invented by the right wing. “Partial birth” abortion does not refer to any particular medical procedure and the term is not recognized in the medical community, according to the College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Abortion procedure bans such as these aim to outlaw or significantly chip away at a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal medical procedure.
Media Resources: New York Times 12/16/02; Washington Post 12/16/02; Gannett News Service 12/16/02; Feminist Daily News 12/12/02