- The Washington Times - Monday, December 16, 2002

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) A drive through Sen. Trent Lott's hometown quickly reveals the depth of devotion residents have for their senator. There is the Trent Lott Middle School, Trent Lott International Airport and, at the shipyards, government-funded projects that the senator secured.
A week after Mr. Lott, a Republican, made a comment about segregation followed by a series of personal apologies, many residents here remain fierce in their support white residents, that is.
It's hard to find a black resident who forgives him.
Mr. Lott's fifth apology came Friday, after he reopened old racial wounds with remarks on segregation at the 100th birthday party Dec. 5 of Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican. He asked for "forbearance and forgiveness" in a personal appearance in Pascagoula.
"I don't care what they say; he's not a racist," said Mary Anderson, 70, the white matriarch of Anderson's Bakery. She said Mr. Lott always has been open to both blacks and whites.
But Oreatha Bailey, 71, who is black, said the apologies haven't been enough.
"I think the damage has been done," she said.
The Rev. James Goodman Sr., leader of a small black church in neighboring Moss Point, said a small gathering of church members had talked about Mr. Lott and that nobody thought the remark was a simple slip of the tongue.
"You wouldn't say something that strong, that forceful and not feel that way," Mr. Goodman said.
Mr. Lott's hometown newspaper, the Mississippi Press, called last week for the senator to resign his leadership position. As editor Dan Davis explained, "Our editorial simply was we thought Lott's comments were insensitive and were an embarrassment to Mississippi."
But Mr. Lott's support of the local defense industry has earned him support from many residents, including the mayor.
He has helped funnel contracts to Ingalls Shipyards, now Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, where his father once worked, as well as to Naval Station Pascagoula. Northrop Grumman employs 11,000 in this town of 26,000. It has built and delivered two or three destroyers per year for the past two decades, said Mayor Joe D. Cole Jr., a vice president at the company.
"He's always been a staunch supporter of U.S. Navy shipbuilding, and that's resulted in the company landing new business and shipbuilding contracts," said Mr. Cole, 54.
A $47.5 million high-rise bridge that towers about 100 feet over the Pascagoula River will open in mid-2003, cutting down on the waiting time for shrimp boats and motorists.
Neighboring Biloxi and Gulfport view the high-rise with envy, knowing they are stuck with their drawbridges. Todd Jordan, an engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation, said the only reason Pascagoula got the new bridge is because the project received millions of dollars in federal funding.
"If we lost his leadership in the Senate and if he left the Senate we'd be hard-pressed to replace Trent Lott," Mr. Cole said.

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