Under Fire, Lott Apologizes for His Comments at Thurmond's Party
ASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2002 — Saying that he had used "a poor choice of words," Trent Lott, the Senate Republican leader, apologized tonight for his speech at the 100th birthday party of Senator Strom Thurmond, which critics had said was an implicit endorsement of segregation.
At issue are three sentences in Mr. Lott's tribute last Thursday to Mr. Thurmond, a South Carolina Republican who ran for president in 1948 on a Dixiecrat platform opposing "social intermingling of the races."
With Mr. Thurmond by his side, Mr. Lott, Republican of Mississippi, 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."
The comments brought complaints from both sides of the political aisle.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson called on Mr. Lott to resign as Republican leader. Representative John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and leader of the civil rights movement, said he was "shocked and chagrined." William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, said Mr. Lott had been "thoughtless."