The Associated Press State; Local Wire
December 20, 2002, Friday, BC cycle
Nevada lawmakers not surprised by Lott resignation
DATELINE: LAS VEGAS
Sen. Harry Reid said Republican Senate leader Trent Lott's decision to relinquish his post Friday came as no surprise.
"He had no alternative," the Nevada Democrat and Senate minority leader said. "Senator Lott dug himself a hole and he didn't dig it all in one setting. He dug it over the years. And he couldn't figure out a way to get out of it."
Reid, who has called colleagues in a bid to win his party's Senate leadership post should Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., resign it seek the presidency, said he had no preference for a replacement for Lott.
Lott's resignation Friday culminated a controversy over his racially insensitive comments at Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party.
Lott said that Mississippians were proud to have voted for Thurmond in 1948 on the pro-segregationist Dixiecrat ticket.
Asked if the episode would serve as a warning to weigh his own words carefully, Reid said: "You play how you practice."
"If you tell ethnic jokes in the backroom, it's that much easier to say ethnic things publicly. I've always practiced how I play."
Nevada's other Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Shelley Berkley, said the lesson behind Lott's resignation was "clear and positive."
"The political system and the American public will not tolerate, in the 21st century, the backward viewpoint reflected by the senator's remarks."
Nevada's Republicans were less blunt.
Rep. Jim Gibbons, who had called for Lott to step down from the post, praised Friday's decision.
"Senator Lott did the right thing for his party, for the Senate, for the nation," the four-term Republican said. "He stepped down with great grace."
Sen. John Ensign said Lott's comments had opened what he called "a national dialogue on race relations." Ensign had argued in a radio interview Thursday that it would be better for Democrats and blacks if Lott remained in the post.
"Now it is time for us as Americans to learn from this incident, to heal from it, and to move forward," Ensign said in a statement Friday.
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Reid on 'ethnic jokes'
Posted by Benjamin Spillman
Saturday, Jan. 09, 2010 at 01:03 PM